"There's nothing that can hold me back"
"I was in hospital during the London 2012 Paralympics and that was when I felt that anything was possible, no matter what my past experiences."
Suzanna Hext had experienced a lot. As she lay in hospital, Suzanna Hext was 23 years old. She was struggling to accept her paralysis.
Her life was changed by the fall of her horse, which she had been riding since childhood. Her spine was broken, her pelvis cracked, her shoulder was crushed, and she suffered a head injury that shattered her world.
Nine years later, she will be on television when she travels to Tokyo to compete in the S5 class at the 2020 Paralympics.
She said that she lost her sense of identity while in hospital. Her passion was always riding horses, sport, and anything physical.
"Now, going to the Paralympics, it kinda just feels completely crazy because that was a dream. And I think it just shows you that you can have your dream and that if you work hard and have support, you can achieve them."
To swim or to ride?
Hext won Para-dressage and Para-swimming titles.
Hext, now 32 years old, was able to choose from a variety of sports in Tokyo. She won silver in the 50m freestyle, bronze in the 100m-freestyle at the 2019 World Championships. After her accident, Hext also returned to the saddle and won three Paradressage gold medals at 2017 European Championships.
Hext said, "I'm a perfectionist so probably to do two at a Paralympics would be pushing it." When Hext was asked if she thought about doubling up.
It was the goal, but it's a 10-day swimming program that overlaps with the Paradressage. I will still be looking at everyone.
"I look forward to supporting them on this journey as well. But I love the ride and the pool. I don't think there are two better sports."
"It wasn't an easy journey"
Hext devoted her entire attention to swimming in 2017, and she was the only one.
Hext, who was born in Truro and holds the British record for the S5 100m and 50m freestyle. He will also swim the SB4 100m backstroke.
Hext, who is a swimmer for Swindon ASC, and trains with the British elite squad of the Manchester Aquatics Centre, was unable to prepare due to Covid-19.
She was able to swim around Cornwall's coast during the March 2020 lockdown, and she also had the opportunity to use the pool at AP McCoy’s home last summer.
Hext stated that she used the 12m pool in her back yard to swim up and down, and that he was a 20-time champion jockey.
"We had Zoom sessions and a camera was set up for the coach. It's how people adapt during lockdown.
Hext is philosophical about her life, which has enabled her to represent ParalympicsGB globally.
"I believe that just going to the Paralympic Games is an unforgettable experience for everyone. But, having been through all that I have, it just makes it that little more special and makes me appreciate life more.
"It wasn't an easy journey. There are times when it's hard to love my old body back. But, equally, I want me back as a person. I'd lost myself.
"To get me back smiley, happy and zest-for-life Suze. It's impossible to get better after going through what I have.