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“Running helps me clear my thoughts.” So says 800-m athlete Chris Reid who trains six times a week and is being coached towards the 2023 Special Olympics and the Paralympics in 2024. It’s already been quite some journey.
Chris was born with XYY syndrome which resulted in a learning disability. Held back two years in primary school, Chris’ troubles really started at secondary school where he was a victim of continuous bullying– once a lighter was held to his head and he would sometimes get off the bus to walk home rather than endure the taunting.
His learning disability meant he hadn’t the ability to deal with it all and sadly, Chris’ mental health deteriorated into anxiety, stress and panic attacks which are now often brought on by breaks to his routine. A cancelled bus can be traumatic, for example.
At its worst, Chris has psychotic episodes which require medication and sustained spells in hospital. But he’s always itching to get out, to get back to running.
The 2012 Olympics were formative for Chris as a young boy. “Watching Mo Farah run, I knew then that I wanted to be a runner too,” he says, “I joined Eton Manor running club and now I’m with Newham and Essex Beagles. I train hard, often very early, and last year I got an award – and some sponsorship – from the GLL Sports Foundation.”
Since leaving college, Chris has spent some time with the Prince’s Trust and done an internship. Whilst holding down a job is currently difficult, Chris knows where he want to end up.
“I’d like to do youth work,” he smiles, “I can relate to the people, I can help them because I’ve probably been through some of the same things they have.”
Whilst his disabilities make many of his goals very challenging, Chris always looks beyond himself and considers how he can help others. Many of his runs are for people less fortunate than himself and over the past 6 years he’s raised £7000 through running various distances, including a marathon! Rhe funding includes £1500 for a sensory garden for a local school and £2000 for ‘My Child Uganda.’
The rhythms and the routines of running certainly help Chris control his mental health far better than any medication alone. “Perhaps,” says Chris, “running could help you, too?”
“Cheery outlook for life, positive attitude for his future, optimism that he will need in striving to live a life. Curiosity that takes interest in others and sharing experiences.” – Leaders’ List 2019 Judge
“I wish I could know more about Christopher and the organisations he likes to support – he sounds like a really positive bloke.” – Leaders’ List 2019 Judge
In the press
- “Running really helps my mental state” – Previous Award winner Christopher shares his mental health experience
Read on jackpetcheyfoundation.org.uk
- Athlete with learning disabilities wins award for charity work
Read on guaridan-series.co.uk
- Reid cannot wait for Simplyhealth Great Newham Run
Read on newhamrecorder.co.uk
- Disabled Christopher Reid from Leyton says charity run for Dayspring Christian Ministries was ‘real adrenaline rush’
Read on guardian-series.co.uk