Karen set to cycle for Britain in Paralympics

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A CALDERDALE woman paralysed from the chest down in a climbing accident is training for the London 2012 Paralympic games.

Karen Darke, 39, who grew up in Mytholmroyd, where her parents still live, was severely injured when she fell off a cliff during a rock-climbing expedition on sea cliffs at Aberdeen 18 years ago.

But her passion and determination to continue to push herself to the limit has seen her take up alternative vehicles to explore the world, including hand cycling over the Himalayas, sea kayaking from Canada to Alaska and sit ski-ing for a month across the ice-caps in Greenland.

As well as that, she has taken up motivational speaking and has toured theatres with her production, ‘If you fall...’, to inspire young people and businesses with her positive mental attitude.

Now Karen, a graduate of Leeds University, is preparing for what she describes as one of her toughest challenges yet – competing at the Paralympic games in London next year.

She has been accepted into the British Cycling Academy, the governing body for Olympic cycling, and has competed in Spain, Italy, Germany and Canada.

Her parents, Chris and Mike, said they were proud of Karen’s success so far. “We’re both obviously very proud,” said Mike.

“She’s very determined and has worked extremely hard to get into the British Cycling Academy which is a huge achievement.

“They only take people who they think have a chance of a medal, so we that hope she can race.

“If we can get tickets we’ll be there cheering her on next year,” he added.

* Do you know someone competing in the Olympic or Paralympic games? Let us know at yoursay@halifaxcourier.co.uk