Sport has given me so many opportunities; the most important being independence, embracing my disability and being proud of who I am.
Meet James, 30, a T11 (B1) track sprinter from South Wales. James was born with bilateral coloboma and nystagmus, as well as having detached retinas in both eyes. Below James shares his journey into sport:
He said: "Sport has played a huge part in my life, growing up sport was a way of fitting in and not standing out for having a visual impairment, it has given me confidence. I was happy to sit on the bench and shy away from everything that highlighted my disability."
"It wasn't until I found athletics that my true sporting journey started. Sport is now my life, training full time, travelling the world to compete and working for an organisation which allows me to help others realise their own potential in sport at all levels."
James started athletics 12 years ago with the Swansea Harriers. He said: "It completely changed my perspective on sport. Athletics gave me the confidence to be whoever I wanted to be. Quickly realising my own potential, I have been lucky enough to travel the world to compete and represent my country at events such as the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia."
He said: "I always thought that I created most of the challenges that I faced. I never believed in myself, and I was ashamed of my disability. This shame affected my confidence, and I did not put myself out there to achieve anything of significance. That was until I discovered my passion for athletics."
He added: "Travel has always been a huge barrier for me, not only in sport but in life too. I am extremely lucky to have the full support of my family and friends who often sacrifice their time to take me to training or competitions and anywhere needed in day-to-day life too. Without that support, I don't know where I would be."
Touching on British Blind Sport (BBS), James said: "Not only has BBS helped me, but they have helped my family too. It has provided us with a community of amazing people that we never knew existed."
"One of my earliest memories of competing is at the Metro Blind Sport and BBS event in London. It was a great competition and an even greater opportunity to meet other visually impaired participants."
James says: "My athlete identity does not stop at 'James the sprinter'. I am also a sports massage therapist and I work for Disability Sport Wales. I love all my 'jobs' and never think of them as simply 'jobs'. Helping others, not just in the sporting field, is a true passion of mine. I embrace any opportunity that I am given and am extremely grateful for everything that I have accomplished."
"I host the 'Disability Sport Wales Podcast', talking to a few guests and shedding some light on different disabilities, how to overcome barriers and how to become the best version of yourself (to name a few themes). Hosting this podcast has broadened my mind to all sorts of perceptions and misconceptions in day-to-day life."
"I am a big American Football fan; I love the game and have been to many International Series games when they are in the UK. My father once played, thus sparking my interest in the sport."
With Paris 2024 less than a year away, James said: "The next step for me is qualifying for the Paralympic Games. I have my mind set on Paris 2024. It is my dream to compete for Team GB on the world stage and I am doing everything possible to make that dream a reality."
We asked James, if he could give some advice to an inactive person living with sight loss, what would it be? "Firstly, there is something for everyone, you just have to find what that is for you. The first step is always the hardest, but the opportunities that follow will be worth it."
"Secondly, we don't all have sight, but we can all have a vision. Our vision will lead us on a journey and that journey can take all sorts of twists and turns. Just know that the destination will always be worth it if you put in the work. Sport has given me a life I never thought I would have; it can do the same for you too!"
Check out James's podcast channels, links below:
To find out more about athletics and how to get started, visit: https://britishblindsport.org.uk/az/athletics
James Ledger competing in a race alongside two other athletes on a race track.