A WORLD champion archer has spoken of her delight at being chosen to carry the Paralympic Torch after dreaming about the honour six years ago.
Iris Bingham, 70, of Bilton, was chosen not only because of her sporting prowess, but also because of her work in persuading and helping disabled people get the best out of sport. Iris, a wheelchair user, dreamt of being a torchbearer six years ago and has wanted to carry the torch ever since.
She said: “I was absolutely delighted when I found out - it’s literally a dream come true for me and also a huge honour.
“Sport can open up people’s lives and make them realise what they’re capable of - this is why it’s so important for me.”
Of her work with Rugby Sports for the Disabled Association (RSDA), she said: “It’s beautiful to watch people who feel worthless about themselves rediscover their confidence and do things they never thought they could. It’s brilliant, and so rewarding.”
Iris, who was born in Forest Gate, East London, took up archery in 1995. She has two sons, Stephen and Ian, and four grandchildren, Jacob, 15, Ryan, 14, Isaac, 12, and Zach, 9.
She has won every international crossbow championship she entered since the World Crossbow Shooting Association (WCSA) began in 2003. She’s 20 times a WCSA world champion and holds 17 world records. Iris shoots from a wheelchair as she has spinal and leg problems so competes as ‘assisted disabled’ in competitions.
She added: “My most memorable personal achievement was receiving my first world championship gold medal, but I also get a great buzz every time a less able RSDA member wins a medal. I enjoy coaching everyone, especially the less able, encouraging them to communicate and take part. With more confidence, they can focus on competitions and have the chance of winning medals.”
She’s been involved with RSDA for 35 years and annually organises 15 club championships and for 28 years has helped co-ordinate Rugby Disabled Sports Day.
The Paralympics take place between Saturday August 29 and September 3. The opening ceremony takes place on August 29 at 8.30pm.
The torch route begins in Aylesbury at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where the Paralympics were founded in the 1940s. It ends at the Olympic stadium in London.
The date and location of Iris’s participation is yet to be confirmed.