A GB kayaking sensation is hoping to mark herself out as a future star when she takes on the world’s best in Argentina later this year.
But as 16-year-old Mayo Cross goes for gold in December’s San Juan event, onlookers won’t know her battle to the top involves much more than just being good at her sport.
The outdoor activities student from Ashton in Makerfield suffers from chronic pain because of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a genetic condition that affects the collagen, in some cases all through the body.
Her condition can cause dislocations and subluxations of joints, and Mayo dislocates shoulders, knee caps, fingers, thumbs, wrists, toes - as well as dealing with hip problems.
But setting aside the fact the teenager finds walking painful, Mayo’s passion is bigger than her disability.
Her slot in the GB Freestyle Kayaking team, one of only two women’s places, is won by merit as there are no concessions for her condition in the sport - and she will go head-to-head in Argentina with able bodied athletes.
As well as freestyle kayaking, Mayo also competes in para sprint kayaking, in which she is hoping to one day make it to the paralympics.
Mayo is also completing her coaching levels, and has also reached assessment stage two in canoe. “I’m amazingly proud of her,” said mum Angela.
“She’s going to carry on as long as she possibly can, but she’s planning for the long term – and wants to coach when she can’t compete any more. She’s hoping to carry on freestyling and also make it to the paralympics in the sprint.”
Mayo’s family will travel with her to Argentina to support her both in competition and with her travel, but with flights costing £1,000 each, sponsorship could make a big difference to her World Championship preparation.
Mayo keeps her own blog on Facebook about her adventures in kayaking, where people will also be able to send her a message about potential sponsorship.
Search ‘Can U Kayak?’ on Facebook.