The article below is the stories of one of the Para-athletes that train at North Beach Athletic. It was published in the West Australian. Well done Jade!
Snuggling up to the beautiful baby girl who may never have been, Jade Richards is cherishing life as a new mum getting closer to her Paralympic dream.
Three years ago, Ms Richards was lying on rail tracks at Perth’s McIver station, both legs severed below the knee after she was hit by a train. Her miracle survival gave her a second chance at life — then on August 25 the 20-year-old delivered daughter Olive Miah Ann O’Sullivan.
“Life is going beautifully,” Ms Richards said this week.
“I think it was meant to be and this is who I am, Olive’s mum. Life is so cool and not everyone realises it. We have to think about how amazing it is to be alive.”
Ms Richards’ remarkable recovery has been so compelling that it moved Brad Ness, Australia’s flag-bearer at last year’s Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games, to say he had barely seen a more compelling turnaround.
“It’s quite a transformation,” the four-times Paralympian told The Weekend West.
After a difficult 2016, it was a moment on the eve of this year that brought new optimism for Ms Richards and the love of her life Nick O’Sullivan.
Jade Richards, who lost both legs when she was hit by a train in 2014, with her three-month-old daughter Olive.
“I never make resolutions and last year it was, ‘Say yes to life’,” Ms Richards said.
“Then two weeks later I find out I’m pregnant. Last year wasn’t that great and I wasn’t saying yes to life. I was looking for substance, looking for something in the wrong places.
“I’m still finding myself really but I’m totally in love with Nick and in love with life. I feel so lucky.”
Ms Richards laughed that their relationship started at a party after Mr O’Sullivan approached her and said she looked like a Pizza Hut worker in the outfit she was wearing.
It is appreciation of humour that contrasts with her ordeal — it included two months in Royal Perth Hospital’s trauma unit, two weeks at Shenton Park Rehabilitation Hospital and 15 operations.
“I was lost for a long time,” she said. “Like, ‘Where is my place in the universe, what am I doing and why me?’ When the train hit me, I thought I was going to die. I was alert, awake and when I went to get up, I saw no legs. It was crazy.
“But I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything changes and you have to be comfortable with change. Change is beautiful and it’s scary and you just have to accept it.”
While life turned sour for South Africa’s shamed Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius, who was known as the Blade Runner, the athletic potential of Perth’s “Jade Runner” is in its infancy. She speaks with a maturity beyond her years and is adamant she will reach her elite athletic goals.
A promising swimmer, athlete and gymnast before the accident, Ms Richards is making rapid progress under coach Mark Bannister. She is running with the new blades she dreamt about as she lay in her trauma unit bed.
Ms Richards has already learnt to run on the prosthetics she calls her “day legs” and while the blades force her on to the tips to run, she is eagerly eyeing sprint glory at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
“It would be the ultimate goal,” she said. “I didn’t even think it would be possible to walk again for a long time.
“I think everything is possible.”