My deafness didn't stop me becoming a champion kickboxer
In this year’s Open English Championship, Limerick, who is moderately deaf, won the English champion title. Lilly-Anne, who is mildly to moderately deaf, won a silver medal. Both have qualified to represent England at the Unified World Championships in Italy.
When the girls first started kickboxing, mum Natalie met with their coaches, Kris and Liam, to discuss what support they would need. “Deafness in kickboxing was unheard of, or at least not widely publicised,” she says. “We had to come up with our own plans as there was no one who could advise us.”
Determined not to let anything stop the girls from enjoying kickboxing, the coaches made adjustments to support them. “In the beginning, I coached them visually by demonstrating the moves instead of vocally communicating with them at competitions,” says Liam.
Both sisters use radio aids at school, and when their Teacher of the Deaf suggested using one for kickboxing, it made a big difference. At their next competition, both girls came home with medals for the first time, as having the radio aids made communicating with their coaches much easier.
However, other technology isn’t always reliable. “If I get hit or kicked in the head, sometimes my hearing aids turn off,” says Lilly-Anne. To compensate, their coaches switch back to visual coaching when needed.
Limerick and Lilly-Anne enjoy bringing more deaf awareness to kickboxing. “It’s hard being deaf sometimes; people don’t understand what it’s like,” says Limerick. “But I like showing people my colourful hearing aids and watching my mum and coaches explain to everyone how my radio aid works.”
Both girls plan to continue kickboxing when they get older, and Limerick wants to compete in the Deaflympics. Their coaches are immensely proud of them. “Their hearing loss hasn’t held them back in anything,” says Kris. “They train hard and reap the rewards!”
Find out more about making sports accessible for your deaf child.