16 December 2019 16:35
Tanni Grey-Thompson scaled the peaks of her sport, becoming one of the most decorated Paralympians of all time. However, life for the 11-time gold-medal winner is not about looking back. Politics is the game she now dedicates her time to, sitting as a crossbench life peer in the House of Lords. On the back of a general election campaign that has exacerbated the divide across the United Kingdom, centred on the arguments around Brexit, Grey-Thompson sees the need for sport to become a healer for a nation fraying at the seams. She points to 2012, the golden summer where Team GB's success at the London Olympics generated a buzz for sport across the UK, and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as examples of the unifying power sport can have..
"It's really important because everyone needs a bit of hope and aspiration," said Grey-Thompson, the winner of the lifetime achievement award at BBC Sports Personality of the Year. "We're in really difficult, challenging times – how do we dial back from some of the behaviours? People are emotional about where we are in politics. "The amount of people that have said to me in the last few months that we need another 2012, because there was something a bit amazing about it. We had that in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games.
Sport brings people together and we need to find a way – maybe Tokyo and the build-up is the time to think happier thoughts." Grey-Thompson feels she owes a great deal to the grounding given to her by parents Sulwen and Peter. Humility was a character trait impressed upon her; she does not make a show of displaying her athletic achievements at home. But for Sunday's award, she may make an exception. "If you'd come to our house, you wouldn't know I was an athlete," Grey-Thompson said. "We don't really have anything out. It was the way my parents brought me up. My medals are in a rucksack. Both my parents have passed away and it was very grounding. "Mum was amazing but didn't have a clue about sport. There was this particular commentator she didn't like – she had very strong passions about Welsh rugby – and the moment he said something nice about me, he was the most influential sports commentator that had ever existed. "They were very grounding. You don't be pushy, you don't be selfish. But I might stick this somewhere prominent. It's amazing. This is the icing on the cake as an athlete. You don't wake up every day thinking you want to be at SPOTY." Sunday night was an emotional night for the former wheelchair racer, being welcomed on stage at Aberdeen's P&J Live Arena by her husband Ian, daughter Carys and long-time family friend Jade Jones. If that was not special enough, Welsh rugby favourites such as Alun Wyn Jones and Jonathan Davies were in attendance – manor from heaven for the girl who grew up with aspirations of playing rugby for Wales. She said: "I never really think about my sports career. I'm very forward-looking – I work in politics now, which is interesting. I only look back at my sports career at something like this, or a conference where I'm talking about my career. "I did a podcast with the BBC the other week – you don't get up each day saying 'I'm going to be inspirational'. You just try get through each day. I look forward because there's a million things I want to do in politics. Sport gave me an amazing platform to do different things and hopefully my career in politics can live up to my career in sport." The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have taken a break from their six-week holiday to congratulate Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson on her award win - just hours before sharing an inspirational quote. Prince Harry, 35 and Meghan Markle, 38, took to Instagram to praise the 'awesome athlete', 50, from Cardiff, on her Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year 2019 yesterday. Alongside a picture of the disabilities campaigner, who has spina bifida, a condition caused when a baby's spine and spinal cord does not develop properly in the womb, they penned: 'Tonight, one of Britain's greatest Paralympic athletes Tanni Grey Thompson received the Lifetime Achievement awards, celebrating her role in breaking down barriers and pushing para sport into the mainstream. 'Tanni Grey Thompson - thank you for being an awesome athlete, an incredible role model - and encouraging young people from all over the world to push the boundaries.' Prince Harry, 35, and Meghan Markle, 38, took to the Sussex Royal account to thank Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson for being a 'role model.' Pictured, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the WellChild awards at Royal Lancaster Hotel on October 15, 2019 in London In the post, which also featured a photo of the disabilities campaigner, the royals branded the Paralympic athlete one of 'Britain's greatest' In the next post, they also congratulated cricketer Ben Stokes for winning BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, which is one of the most prized awards in British sport, voted for by the public. Just hours later, they shared an inspirational quote by Anthony J. D'Angelo which read: 'Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.' Written in the couple's signature style - white text in varying fonts against a navy background beneath their joint crown monogram - it was posted alongside the caption: 'A thoughtful quote for the day - wishing you all a wonderful week ahead!' The royal couple shared the sweet posts despite being on a six-week break from royal duties. And it's not the first time the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have taken time out on their holidays to address their 9.9million followers on social media. Earlier this month, they encouraged royal supporters to 'do good' as part of a global 'generosity movement' known as Giving Tuesday. The royal couple also congratulated cricketer Ben Stokes on winning this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award The royals shared an inspirational quote by Anthony D'Angelo just hours later, which read: 'Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community' Earlier this month, the couple also took a break from their holidays to encourage royal supporters to 'do good' as part of a global 'generosity movement' known as Giving Tuesday. Pictured, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the Festival of Remembrance last month Prince Harry and Meghan urged their followers to take part in the event, which originated in the US as a way to encourage people to give back after the excess of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. It takes place on the first Tuesday after the holiday. The couple also shared an inspirational quote from late US author Leo Buscaglia, also known as Dr Love, about the power of small acts of kindness. It read: Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening each, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.' The accompanying caption read: 'An inspiring quote for #GivingTuesday, a day that encourages people to do good. 'GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organisations to transform their communities and the world on December 3, 2019 and every day.' The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are currently taking a six-week break from royal duties. They are understood to be in the US with their seven-month-old son Archie, where reports suggest the couple spent Thanksgiving with close family. Despite their break, Meghan has continued to lend support to causes important to her, and shared a pre-recorded message for the launch of Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation. The Duchess had visited a memorial to South African student in September during the royal tour, and tied a ribbon in memory of the 19-year-old. Uyinene Mrwetyana was raped and murdered after visiting a post office, sparking outrage across the country. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have previously encouraged royal supporters to 'do good' as part of a global 'generosity movement' known as Giving Tuesday. Stock image The couple have also shared an inspirational quote from late US author Leo Buscaglia, also known as Dr Love, about the power of small acts of kindness, pictured