Meningitis Now Young Ambassador Lyndon Longhorne is a meningitis survivor. But more than that, he has never let his disabilities hold him back and has already achieved so many incredible things. Lyndon spoke exclusively to us about how sport has always had such a major impact on his life.
What part do you think sport and fitness has played in your ability to cope with your disabilities caused by meningitis – both mentally and physically?
Sport has played a huge part of my life. It started back in 2008, when the Beijing Olympics was aired on TV and watching various athletes take part in sports - one was swimming. This was what inspired me to take up the sport and aim towards going to an Olympic Games. Before I had started doing sport, I had no interest at all and never to this day would I be the person I am without my sport. It has helped me to understand my disability a lot better and improve my knowledge to help others. It has helped me to become stronger mentally and physically and taking on various tasks every day and motivating myself daily.
Did you believe you couldn’t participate in sports like other children – and what made you realise that you could?
Yes, I never thought I would be able to do sport or any other activities - even though I always told myself that I would do my best at everything in life. However, watching the Olympic Games and seeing a lot of other guys with various disabilities changed my mind and I started looking at different tasks from my point of view.
You are a swimmer, but what other sports would you recommend to our Believe & Achievers?
Yes, I do swimming. However, I have done various other sports from athletes track and field to gymnastics in a sports hall, as well as trying wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby over the years of my sporting career. Anyone looking for a sport can do it, it’s all about having the right mind set. But I will say this to everyone: any sport that is thrown your way, take the opportunity while you can and try it. If you don’t like the sport for whatever the reason, then at least you can say that you have tried it and it was not for you.
Do you have any other messages for youngsters who have been impacted by meningitis in any way (either because they have had the disease themselves or because someone close to them has)?
The message that I give to everyone, whether they have had meningitis or not, is that be the person you want to be! Believe in yourself and don’t let anyone tell you different. Yes, it may take a little time to improve but as long as you get stronger and better at the task you are performing then you know that you have achieved something in yourself.
I would also say don’t ever say that you can’t do anything, because you can! As everyone will tell you, try and try again - don’t ever give up on your first attempt because without doing more attempts you will never know if you could have improved. When you look at some of the biggest stars, they have put thousands of hours into what they love and what they wanted to do and without that they would not be where they are today.
Are you still swimming/training at the moment, and what else are you up to?
Yes, of course I am still swimming. I love my sport and keeping fit. Even though I do plan my own sessions for the gym and have a little help with the pool training sessions I still do my training.
I also work full time which I do around 40 hours a week and that’s on top of trying to complete 15 hours of training a week sometimes more or less depending on my schedule. I also attend events, look after a baby, and maintain bills to keep a roof over my head! Although I do make sure to rest when I need to because otherwise I would soon be out with an injury or unwell with my health. Being so busy on a daily basis can be very tiring - but I never let my disability stop me.