Meet Stefanie Reid, ParalympicsGB's superwoman who jumps, runs, and has a 'robot leg' according to one little girl

In case you weren't already aware of ParalympicsGB's Stefanie McLeod Reid, allow me to introduce her to you.

Born in New Zealand to British parents, Stef grew up in Canada where she lost her right leg, from the knee down, after a boating accident.

Competing under the Canadian flag at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, Reid won bronze in the T44 200m event, and two years later switched allegiance to Great Britain (Stef has triple nationality). Competing under the British flag at London 2012, this time Reid claimed silver in the T44 long jump event.

Stef is married to Brent Lakatos, a Canadian wheelchair racer, and has an honours degree in biochemistry. She has worked as a model, reporter and professional speaker, and will go for gold in the T44 long jump event at Rio 2016 later on Friday.

Up to speed? Good, let's catch up with Stef, then.

Stef, the Paralympics has received some great coverage from Channel 4. Has this led to better coverage and recognition generally, or has it created some annoying cliches?

Stefanie McLeod Reid jumps for Great Britain - (David Davies/PA)
(David Davies/PA)

"The two best things Channel 4 has done are 1) making the Paralympic movement relevant to everyone in society, and 2) changing how the next generation sees people with disabilities.

"In terms of relevance, you don't have to have a disability to enjoy the Paralympics. Everyone knows what it is like to feel like an outsider, to feel like an underdog, to feel like you can't do something because you aren't the same as the other people who are doing it. Paralympic athletes show what is possible when you combine strength and courage with hard work and ingenuity.

"The other great thing is that the negative view of disability is being challenged. My favourite example of this was a conversation I overhead while shopping in a grocery store. A mum said to her little girl 'Don't stare, sweetie, she has a poorly leg'. Her little girl responded with 'No, she doesn't. That is a robot leg'."

What's the best thing about training?

"The feeling you get when you fly through the air."

And the worst?

"Dealing with injuries."

What was the most surreal moment of London 2012 for you?

Stefanie McLeod Reid runs at London 2012 - (Lynne Cameron/PA)
(Lynne Cameron/PA)

"It was standing on the podium and looking out into the audience to see my family, and in particular my little brother. Scott was your typical teenager, way too cool for anything, never one to get too excited. And there he was, standing on his seat, wrapped in a GB flag and cheering wildly for his sister.

"It was great to see how the Paralympic movement captivated everyone from every generation!"

Which do you prefer: a night in or a night out?

"Night in."

What irritates you on a regular basis?

"M1 traffic."

You're a bit of a superwoman: a rugby player, a biochemist, an athlete, a reporter and a model. Do you see yourself as a role model for women?

"If someone draws motivation and encouragement from me, then that is awesome and I hope it spurs them on to chase their dreams, but I don't hold myself up as an example of how to do life right. I think the road to success is actually pretty wide - there is no formula; it is about being brave enough to be yourself and to take chances on your own terms.

"I am not an athlete with a fairytale story. I have had some success, but I am also very familiar with losing, and the process of learning and coming back from that.

Sprinting or jumping?


Stefanie McLeod Reid lands in the sand - (EMPICS Sport)
(EMPICS Sport)

What's your favourite TV programme to wind down with?

"So embarrassing, but Star Trek: The Next Generation. The result of being married to a software engineer!"

You're married to Brent, who is another top athlete. Do things get competitive when the Monopoly board is out or are you both quite relaxed?

"We are naturally quite competitive, but we have a lot of fun with it! Life and relationships are hard, and there are definitely more important things than winning."

Favourite meal?

"Coffee and cake Tuesdays at Delice (local cafe) - usually a solitary occasion as I'm too focused on my cake to bother with conversation!"

Best moment competing?

"Being announced in the London 2012 Paralympic stadium - the crowd was so awesome!"

What has each country you've lived in given you?

"I have had a pretty colourful childhood, and I am incredibly grateful for it. I have lived in lots of places, and it has turned me into a bit of a chameleon. I have learned how to live and enjoy myself in a variety of countries and cultures. When you move a lot, you learn how to make friends quickly."

Usain Bolt or Mo Farah?

"Usain Bolt."

Great British Bake Off or X Factor?

"Great British Bake Off."

Finally, you did some media work last year. Did that change your perception of the coverage you get as an athlete?

Stefanie McLeod Reid collects her bronze medal at London 2012 - (EMPICS Sport)
(EMPICS Sport)

"It was really great to get an inside view and to appreciate that it is hard work being a sports journalist. There is a huge push by the Paralympic community to seek more media coverage, and it was great to see things from the other side and understand the pressures journalists and editors face.

"As a community of athletes, we need to be creative and think about how we can communicate our stories better and make ourselves as available as possible to journalists. We will have to fight hard for column space usually reserved for football, but I think it most definitely can be done."

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