Leanne’s Journey

My name is Leanne Peters and I am 34 years old.

I was born prematurely, weighing 2lb 13oz.

I have learning disability and mild cerebral palsy.

I attended my local primary school with lots of help, but instead of going to the High School with the rest of my class, I was sent to a Special Needs school.

My mum and dad decided that I should try lots of different sports to see if they could help me with my balance, co-ordination and confidence.

I started riding at the local Riding for the Disabled when I was 4 years old, and have loved horses ever since. I started competing at local shows and RDA competitions and in 1997 I was chosen to be part of the Special Olympics Equestrian team that travelled to Portsmouth and went on to win a 4th and 5th place and a gold medal for my dressage.

Taking part in dressage has helped me with my concentration and sequencing. I have always had problems putting things in the right order and dressage is a very precise sport so I have to work very hard.

Some people think I am stupid because I have a learning disability but I am not.  If I am given the time, and instructions are explained clearly, I can usually work things out. Sometimes I get things wrong but I do try my best.

I have had the huge honour of representing Special Olympics Great Britain at European and World Games both in equestrian and in cycling which I also love, and fortunate to come home with lots of medals, new friends and wonderful memories.

On my 30th birthday I was in Malta attending an Athletes Leadership Programme, as a GB representative, and along with other athletes from all over Europe, we discussed how to make the Games even better and fairer for all taking part.

When Friends of Special Olympics Ireland were organising a fundraiser from Paris to Nice and wanted a Special Olympics athlete to take part, I was chosen. Along with my coach Tom, we set off to Paris for a five-day journey I will never forget.  It was a great feeling and a fantastic achievement for me.

I can’t imagine my life without sport. I have achieved so much more than my family could ever have hoped for and it has made me the strong, confident woman I am today.

I am so proud that people now prefer to focus on my ability and not my disability.