England Performance Group athlete, Gabriella Rolls, tells us all about the transformative effect watching the Paralympics has had on her life.


I discovered the Paralympics aged 8, due to the London 2012 coverage. It was the first time I'd seen anyone like me on TV, being celebrated. I had no idea what an impact London 2012 would have on the perception of disability back then but now it's undeniable.

I had fallen in love with disability sport but didn't see the impact it would have on my life until the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

The Rio Games rescued me from a dark time where surgery changed the direction I imagined my life going in. I was depressed and hated my body and my disability. 

The #wearethesuperhumans campaign helped me relearn what I was capable of and redefine my own goals. I knew I wanted to take up sport and rekindled playing boccia.

I joined a boccia club in 2016 and never looked back. It made me happy, gave me confidence, and most importantly gave me purpose. I was motivated to try hard, to showcase that I could do amazing things and that I was more than medical labels and inabilities.

I competed for the first time in 2018.

I launched a club at school.

I debuted for the England Team and got Gold in 2019, becoming a member of the England Performance Group (EPG).

Though the competitions were postponed this year, I still have my sights set on Paralympics GB. I have no idea how long my sport journey will last or how far it will take me, but this is what people mean when they talk about the "Paralympic Legacy".

I am forever grateful to have disability sport and all the role models it creates in my life. I hope the Tokyo Games inspire people in the same was I was inspired nearly a decade ago.

Every 4 (or 5!) years, I feel truly represented and proud of who I am.