Lizzie’s journey to para-triathlete
25 Feb 2020
by Ethos Group

Lizzie Tench is an amazing character with all the grit, determination and fight associated with top sportsmen and women - a champion who turned a negative into a positive to reach the pinnacle of her sport.

Lizzie’s life was changed forever on March 17, 2012 when she was knocked off her bicycle and left paralysed from the waist down. She fought back through a period of lengthy rehabilitation and became one of our top para-triathletes, a multi-national champion, European Championship Gold Medalist, World Championship Silver Medalist and World Number One.

Ethos ambassador

Lizzie may have retired from competition but is still fighting. . .for us at Ethos, raising awareness of the work we are doing through her role as an ambassador and patron of the group.

As a former Ethos tenant Lizzie has first-hand knowledge of how we operate, the aims of our group and how we are helping people with life-changing injuries piece their lives back together so they can look forward to an independent future.

When life changed

She said: “The accident in 2012 left me thinking my whole life had been snatched away in an instant and that things would never be the same again. I was out on my bike and was hit by an overtaking driver who never stopped. It quickly became evident to me that I was pretty seriously injured.

“I was airlifted to hospital where it was discovered I had broken my back in two places, broken six ribs, sustained damage to an eye socket and my spleen and broken my nose and cheekbone. I was paralysed from the waist down and admitted to the Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries at Oswestry.

“The whole world looks different when you are confronted with a life-changing situation and have to face up to things that ordinarily you take for granted, like the suitability of your home to meet your needs and how you are going to cope with day-to-day life.

“When it came time to be discharged from hospital it was impossible to return home because of access problems and I also needed to be somewhere where I could draw on help and support to aid my rehabilitation - adjusting to life with paralysis and as a full-time wheelchair user.

Learning to live independently

“I moved into Ethos accommodation in Oswestry which proved to be the ideal solution for the situation I was in. The staff and surroundings are amazing in helping to make the transition from hospital to once again living independently.

“I really don’t know what I would have done without Ethos and the people who work there - I am extremely grateful for all the help and support I received.”

Team GB

Lizzie was active before her injury and Ethos helped her on the path to getting back into sport and representing Great Britain on the world sporting stage.

It was with her new-found independence that Lizzie visited a sporting festival, where she was invited to a Talent ID Day with British Paratriathlon, and selected for the GB Paratriathlon Talent Squad.

She said: "Something life-changing happened to me - everything I’d taken for granted my whole life was taken away in that moment - but I've made something positive come out of it, and I’m extremely proud to have represented Team GB.

“Even if it seems like there’s no hope, there's always a way. If you’re determined, you can achieve what you want and live life to the full.”