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Climbing Changed Paraclimber’s Life Post-Accident

“I decided I wanted to be a physical education teacher, so I went to Edge Hill University in Liverpool. Four weeks passed, I woke up in a hospital,” explains Kenneth. Strength, perseverance and exceptionally inspirational. A truly remarkable story about how climbing changed a paraclimber’s life post-accident.

In 2012 at age 21, Kenneth Ellacott suffered a terrible brain injury. He woke up in hospital unable to move or talk and could only see out of one eye. Kenneth had been in an accident. He had fallen and a steeplechase hurdle landed on the back of his head. He fractured the base of his skull and the fracture was pushing against an artery in his brain. He was told there and then it cannot be operated on as this would create more brain damage.

Kenneth had a stroke and was induced into a coma to help him recover. Twenty-five weeks passed whereby he moved around three different hospitals. Some memories were fun, some scary, but he did not want to rest. He learnt to walk again. However, he was constantly falling over and consistently being told off by the medical team. However, he never stopped trying.

“One thing I will never forget from my time in the hospital was when the doctors told my parents that I will never be able to live a normal life and will always require help in my life. I remember saying to myself that I don’t believe what the doctors said I can be better than before my injury.”

He wanted to show the doctors they were wrong. So, as a former athlete, he wanted to see if he could get a place in the London Marathon, although he could not run. He could only about walk without help. To his disbelief, Kenneth received an email explaining he got a place. He was in the London Marathon. “I thought running a marathon in two months is that a wise choice as I will leave the hospital only three weeks before race day?” Kenneth explains.

Kenneth Ellacott climbing at the Paraclimbing Master’s Competition, Austria, 2018
Kenneth Ellacott climbing at the Paraclimbing Master’s Competition, Austria, 2018

Fast forward two months, Kenneth ran the London Marathon. In an astonishing time of four hours, he crossed the finish line. An inspiration to us all. Left with permanent damage, the left side of his body is always painful, his left eye has only 30% vision and he cannot hear out of his left ear. However, he never let the injury stop him. He did not stop there.

In 2015 Kenneth started climbing. He was undertaking his undergraduate degree and a university friend invited him bouldering. He went thinking he would be able to attempt the sport with the use of only one hand. He caught the climbing bug. Upon bouldering, he noticed that it was helping him manage his pain levels and allowing his left hand to work. After one year of bouldering, he came across a climbing competition for paraclimbers in London. He went along because why not. Climbing top rope for the first time, Kenneth came second in his category. In his first competition, he came second. He was so happy he achieved that. Truly an inspiration.

This spurred him on to train hard. A year passed, he was winning his category. Not only that, he was chosen for the GB Paraclimbing Team. From 2017- 2019 during his time on the team, Kenneth became the UK number one and sixth in the world. Never give up is what comes to mind. You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.

However, due to training so intense Kenneth had to compete in more advanced categories. He was competing against climbers with fully functional bodies compared to him. Kenneth and his coach were not impressed and believed it to be incorrect categorisation. Nevertheless, he did not let this stop him. Continuously persevering Kenneth was now amazingly sixteenth in the world. Experiencing ups and downs in his training, he has also attempted wheelchair basketball and para-rowing. However, nothing can replace climbing. Since 2021 Kenneth is now climbing 2-3 times a week and smashing the gym 2-4 times. He mostly enjoys using his experience and knowledge to help teach climbing.

“Without climbing, I would not be who I am today. Without climbing, I would not have met my beautiful wife. Without climbing, I would not have gotten strong. Without climbing, I would probably still be in bed.”

With an undergraduate degree, a Master’s degree and a post-graduate diploma under his belt, Kenneth works for the NHS as a mental health worker in a mental health ward. His dream is to be international again, training with his wife Anoushé Husain, an amazing paraclimber.

Meeting Anoushé in 2017 at a climbing competition, climbing is their life. Kenneth explains, “I proposed at a climbing wall in the middle of a competition. I hid the ring at the top of the wall. On the floor, roses were leading to the route. When she arrived at the top I had large cards in my hands asking her to marry me.” One of the most beautiful and sentimental proposals I have ever heard.  

The climbing community has shown Kenneth that everyone can climb no matter what. It is an encouraging sport that has multitudes of opportunities and options for experienced climbers, beginners and everyone in between. Kenneth loves to teach children climbing.

Kenneth Ellacott bouldering
Kenneth Ellacott

With the dream to continue climbing all over the UK, Kenneth loves to explore the outdoor climbing routes as it requires a lot more thought about reaching the top and finding the right holds to use.

For those who want to try climbing but are too afraid, Kenneth explains, “The first step onto climbing is going through the door of the centre. Find a club near you and ask for assistance. They may be able to help you with equipment and teaching. You never know something until you try. Never give up, never say you cannot do something.” An unbelievable role model to all.

Follow Kenneth on Instagram @Kennethparaclimbing

Kenneth Ellacott climbing for Team GB
Kenneth Ellacott

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