Debbie Brennan-Johnson is a retired world champion and Paralympian wheelchair racer from Telford. She has just taken possession of her second Vauxhall Zafira Tourer from the Greenhous Vauxhall dealership in Trench Lock.
This inspirational athlete overcame the difficulties of cerebral palsy and a difficult childhood dealing with bullying, to grab an opportunity to get into wheelchair racing with both hands. In 1996 her father left work to care for her mother and Debbie had been racing around in her wheelchair in local events. Her dad, Keith, could see she had talent and he contacted Tony Williams, a national coach of disabled wheelchair athletes. Debbie was invited to the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham where Tony got her to sit in a racing wheelchair for the first time. The Paralympic team had gathered there before leaving for the Atlanta Paralympics.
Tony recognised her talent and within two years Debbie had prospered from a rigorous training programme, with her Dad Keith as her home coach, so that she represented Great Britain at the World Championships in 1998 winning two golds and a silver in her first major championship.
The next target was her first Paralympics in Sydney in 2000. Competing in the T34 class at 100m and 200m. She won silver and gold In Sydney, and held the world record in the 200m until the following Paralympics in Athens, when she won bronze and silver. She also held the T34 1500m record for 10 years.
Debbie was now an inspiration to other young disabled and able-bodied people to take up some form of sporting activity. At the Athens Paralympics in 2004 she won the silver in the 200m and the bronze in the 100m. Debbie has competed all over the world and at one time held the world record at 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 metres!
The former Birchfield Harrier athlete also competed in 5 London marathons, but a bad accident in her last outing in 2007 brought to an end her illustrious career after 12 exceptionally successful years. Now Debbie is proud to be a Mum and look after her 7 year old son, Jacob.
Chris Pickering, the Motability Specialist at Greenhous Vauxhall in Telford, was delighted to have met his second Paralympian from Telford. Chris says: “I provided Mickey Bushell with a Vauxhall Insignia Estate earlier in the year and he is now off to Rio. Mickey was gold medallist in the wheelchair 100 metre sprint in London 2012. Debbie has now visited me and her story is one of bravery under adversity and I can honestly say it is wonderful to meet these two fantastic individuals.”
Debbie is replacing her old Zafira with a new Zafira Tourer which her father will drive her around in. “It is an excellent vehicle,” says Debbie, “with so much room I could place a full racing wheelchair and an ordinary wheelchair in the back without any adaptations.”
To complete a trio of Paralympians at Greenhous, Danielle Brown, a gold medal archer at the Beijing and London Paralympics, is a recent customer.
Pictured (l to r) are: Keith Brennan and Jacob, Debbie Brennan-Johnson showing off her medals and Chris Pickering.