Thirteen-year-old Lily Rice just became the first Brit to land a backflip in a wheelchair and only the second woman in the world to manage the daring WCMX stunt.
The young girl was diagnosed with a progressive condition called Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP) as a child. The illness tightened Lily’s muscles and reduced the range of movement in her lower body, leaving the schoolgirl from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, in a wheelchair.
But between Botox injections and painful therapy, Lily hones the fine art of flinging herself and her chair off ramps and down half-pipes, like this:
Lily wears splints on a daily basis, and has repetitive Botox injections to try and help relax the pain in her rigid muscles.
She finds it ‘tiring and painful to walk’, rendering her wheelchair-bound. So, Lily learnt how to utilise her wheelchair in the most spectacular, adrenaline-pumping way: WCMX.
WCMX stands for Wheelchair MotoX. It’s exactly like MotoX, just on wheels. The endeavour is the brainchild of those who have physical disabilities and a thirst to partake in extreme sports at skate parks worldwide.
Born out the spirit of inclusivity, WCMX began.
Lily told UNILAD how the other skaters respond to her, saying:
If you you go to a skatepark, you’d expect to see BMX bikes, scooters, skateboards, maybe rollerblades… But I hope in the future, you could expect wheelchairs to be there too.
I normally go to the skatepark and they’ll be like, ‘Lily, have you done the eight-foot yet?’
To which she nonchalantly replies, ‘Yes’ with a shrug of her strong shoulders and a sweetly smug grin.
It makes me feel happy because people don’t expect me to do that. My life has changed a lot since I started doing WCMX… You can actually do anything, you just have to put your mind to it.
Lily discovered WCMX when she met Aaron ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham, the current world champion, at Nitro Circus last year.
After bonding over their mutual passion, Aaron donated his old chair to Lily and she’s been shredding at the skatepark ever since.
Lily described how WCMX helps her cope with her HSP:
Skating helps me feel free and forget about my problems and I want to show others that you can do anything you want to, you just have to put your mind to it or do it differently. My motto is ‘#puttingtheabilityintodisability’.
Lily has big ambitions for the future and ‘hopes to get the WCMX community going’, inspiring others with her story of athletic and emotional resilience.
When asked if she sees herself as a role model, Lily – with wisdom beyond her age – replied:
I hope I am. It’d be really nice if I was because I’d like people [with disabilities] to look at me and see they’re not confined to a wheelchair.
Lily has started a GoFundMe so she can buy a new skate chair and keep flipping off things like she does best.
She’s also hoping to fund travel to California for the WCMX world championships in March 2018 and be the first Brit to ever take part.
Good luck, Lily!
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A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.