A ROMFORD wrestler who was labelled ‘Disability Kid’ at school has proven her bullies wrong as she battles her way to the 2016 Olympic Games.
Chloe Spiteri, from Harold Wood, is the only senior female wrestler in London and has taught herself the skills after not being able to find a coach that can teach to Olympic standards.
Furthermore, she has to fund her own training and is raising money to get herself to international training camps in a bid to compete in the Olympics, as British Wrestling currently has no UK Sport funding.
There is no National Senior team in wrestling at the moment and only those that can fund themselves can compete and represent the country.
The 25-year-old found her niche while taking up a Sports Science scholarship at Brunel University, where she got involved in as much sport as she could.
She told the Enquirer: “To be honest I didn’t really find wrestling, it found me. I was competing in sport like football and rowing and I’ve always wanted to be in the Olympics.
“I was playing football one day and wrestling coaches were there. They said there were not many women in wrestling and if I could handle these sports I could handle that.
“First of all I thought ‘no, I’m not doing that!’ and six months later I was national junior champion in wrestling.”
But it wasn’t an easy ride for the now British Wrestling Champion and Glasgow Commonwealth Games Finalist, who suffered from Aspergers Syndrome in her earlier years at school and had epilepsy up to the age of 12.
Chloe spent many hours in Great Ormond Street Hospital and the blackouts she suffered left her with communication difficulties.
But that didn’t stop her from getting the inspiration and enthusiasm to get up and start again.
“When I realised how many years I missed at school it gave me the motivation to get the grades,” she said. “I just thought ‘imagine what story I could build to inspire people’. They’d look back and think ‘Disability Kid’ – look what she did achieve.”
It was while at college that Chloe was encouraged to take up sport by her teachers to tackle her stress and let off steam. “I loved it, I loved the competition,” she added. “I loved the idea of training for something.”
Having already been selected in the 63kg category at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and narrowly missing out on a bronze medal last year, she is now raising money to get herself to the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.
But being the only female wrestler in London and with little funding, it’s a tough ride.
“There is a lot of pressure and there is little support,” Chloe said. “I have to do everything off my own back – I am my own coach, I do my own research and I get myself to that level by myself.”
Chloe has to travel all over London for training sessions and puts all her earnings every month towards her training in order to achieve her dream, spending £20,000 of her own money in three years.
“I haven’t got time to do any fundraising – most people struggle to fit in training and I have to do that and work!
“But I have a support network. My friends raised just over £1,000 and without them, I don’t know what I’d do.”
Chloe has now set up a GoFundMe page, one of the world’s most popular fundraising websites, to encourage people to donate to her cause.
All money raised will fund Chloe’s journeys to international training and camps in places like Canada and Germany. This will improve her world ranking, which may make her eligible for independent UK Sport Funding in the future.
Furthermore if she succeeds, she will be selected for the world championships in Las Vegas in September, which is the first Olympic Qualifier and the first rung of the ladder to get her to the real thing.
Chloe added: “I have achieved so much in sport and I want to make a big story here – imagine having an Olympic story and being the first home grown Olympic winner.
“When I started I thought I would get a few hundred pounds, and the support has given me more confidence and more drive.
“I didn’t really believe I would get the support that I did and it’s helped me to be the best I can be.”
To donate to Chloe’s cause, go to www.gofundme.com/on3m2c.