Yes you can!
Susannah Rodgers MBE, https://www.susannahrodgers.com/
Tell me about yourself
I am Susie Rodgers, a former Paralympic swimmer who competed in two Games in both London 2012 and Rio 2016.
How do we know each other?
I know Liz from the British Council and our overlap on the Language Assistants team many years ago, my first job at the Council. It was a great bunch and I am still in touch with a few of the team many years later. Pretty much the whole time I knew Liz I was training regularly around my job and she watched me go from winning three bronze in London to a Gold and two bronze in Rio.
She also was there for me when I decided to retire from sport and Liz, Bryony and I would meet to do a regular meditation every day in the office. It really was helpful when I needed to get my head around such a huge change and transition.
Liz at the same time, found out that she was pregnant with Coraline and we continued our meditation throughout.
Talk to me about, "Yes you can!"
I have a disability myself. I have a congenital deformity of my right foot and a through-knee and below arm amputation on the left side. All of this occurred at birth. My parents had no idea and when I was born, it was a huge shock for them. I don't know what they went through of course, but I know it changed their lives.
However, 34 years later, Mum and Dad both say how amazed they are at how much I have packed into my life and the different challenges I have taken on. I told Mum about Coraline when she was born and she immediately said, she will be fine. They will be fine. I passed this on to Liz. I think life can throw a lot of unexpected things at you but my parents often tell me how my challenges that I faced growing up, just helped them develop and learn. On a practical level, problem solving skills, lateral thinking but on a deeper emotional level, it opened up their eyes to something else, to a whole other world of joy.
When I raced at the Paralympic Games and won Gold, I looked to Mum in the stands and mouthed it was for her too. I looked at Dad as well and smiled knowingly. I met Mum the next day and cried as I hugged her - the first time I had cried since winning. They have given me the best possible start in life and that is all any parent can do. To encourage, to love, to support you to become who you are meant to be.
What are you passionate about?
I have gained so much from the Paralympic movement, from meeting people with a variety of disabilities from all over the world. I have lifelong friends and I am hugely protective of them all. I feel honored and inspired by them all. Having a disability is not a bad thing, it opens and accesses parts of yourself that you would never normally access. It opens your eyes and it deepens your soul. I would not want to be any different than who I am.
What would you like to say to Coraline?
Be yourself, be happy and thank your parents, because they will give you everything you need to start your journey in life.
Note from Liz
Susie wrote some comments to us in the first month after Coraline was born (and in response to Kevin's wish to take her snowboarding in the future as it is his great love) and I wrote them into my diary so that I could revisit them.
Having a complication never stopped me! And it won't stop Coraline. She will be just fine with two strong parents behind her. Like mine! I reckon you can get her snowboarding. Everything is possible. I live my life by that motto. When I'm told 'can't' I think 'no, you're wrong'.
Susie also gave me a little book for Coraline before she was born in which she wrote, "If you can dream it, you can do it!"