International athlete spreads message of hope
- Credit: IAN BURT
From Great Ormond Street to international athlete, Kimberley Morrison's life so far is an inspirational tale of defeating the odds and overcoming adversity.
Miss Morrison, who is set to make her Great Britain debut in the World Duathlon Championships in Ottawa, Canada in August, now wants to share her story and to inspire other children and families facing difficult challenges.
When she was about four weeks old it was discovered that Miss Morrison had two holes in her heart.
She had to wait until she was two-and-a-half so she would be strong enough to undergo complex and potentially life-threatening heart surgery.
Fortunately, the operation was a success and Miss Morrison, from Bale, near Fakenham, who is now 25, suffers no life-changing lasting effects.
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She said: 'The only impact on me now is that I can't scuba dive.'
Much of those first two-and-a-half years were spent at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
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Over the years Miss Morrison has raised about £7,000 for Great Ormond Street and also The Prince's Trust and Children with Leukaemia.
Although she has nothing specific planned at the moment, with much of her focus on training for the World Duathlon Championships and qualifying for the World Triathlon Championships in London in September, Miss Morrison said she is determined to raise more money for Great Ormond Street.
She said: 'It is such an amazing place and it has done so much for me.
'I plan to go back there at some point and talk to the children and the families there and to tell them my story.
'I think it can show people that anything is possible if you believe it yourself and dedicate yourself to it.'
Miss Morrison, who played one level below national league hockey, only started competing seriously in triathlon one year ago.
She was victorious in her first race, the Corby Super Sprint triathlon, on June 10, 2012, where she was the first female finisher.
She raced in five triathlons in 2012 and finished off her season by raising £1,500 for Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Miss Morrison was inspired to compete after reading A Life Without Limits, by four-time World Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington MBE, from Feltwell.
Miss Morrison said: 'She is just an incredible human being.
'I was inspired by her approach to life. She does everything to the best of her ability. She approaches loading a dishwasher in the same way as she does her training. Everything has to be done to the best of her ability. I saw a bit of myself in her.
'I've been fortunate enough to meet her a couple of times. She said to me once, 'go and get your palace'.
'I'm still not entirely sure what she meant by that, but she's been a massive inspiration for me.'
Miss Morrison joined the Team Dillon coaching team last year.
She qualified for the World Duathlon Championships by finishing fourth in the British Duathlon Championships for the 25 to 29 age group in Rutland in March.
She is also determined to qualify for and do well in the World Triathlon Championships in London in September.
Miss Morrison said: 'I'm going to Canada to gain valuable experience but will be going to London to win a medal.
'What is exciting me is that I've come so far in such a short space of time. There is so much more for me to achieve, but I feel I've made a great start.'
Miss Morrison works as an area support manager for Lloys Banking Group in Gresham Street, London, but is back in Norfolk every other weekend visiting her parents Syd and Andrea, who still live in Bale.
They run Wensum Pools in South Raynham, which sponsors Miss Morrison.
Andrea Morrison said: 'It was such a traumatic experience for us, going through those first two-and-half years, not knowing what was going to happen to our daughter.
'To think she's now going to be competing for Great Britain is fantastic.
'We are so proud of her.'