Sport Awards: Stephanie beats the pain to win award

Stephanie Allen with her Outstanding Student of the Year Award. Neil Gibson. May 2017

Stephanie Allen with her Outstanding Student of the Year Award.

COMPETING in judo can be tough at the best of times, but doing so while in constant pain is a major challenge.

But it’s something that Stephanie Allen takes in her stride, and has seen her crowned Outstanding Student of the Year in the 2017 University of South Wales (USW) Sport Recognition Awards.

The 19-year-old from Merthyr, who is going into USW’s second year in September to study sociology, has scoliosis – which leads to curvature of the spine – and juvenile arthritis, which means she constantly suffers from pain.

It’s a condition that’s made worse by the fact Stephanie is allergic to all non-steroid-based anti-inflammatory treatments, which can, for many people, give relief from the pain the conditions cause.

“She’s can only take small amounts of medication for it - cocodamol or paracetamol – but she just puts up with it really,” said mum Wendy Allen, who is also a judo player and coach, and gained a PGCE from USW in 2014.

“She’s very tall, would be more than six foot if her spine wasn’t curved, but it’s just a thing she gets past.

“Since she was a baby she’s always achieved what she set out to achieve. Nothing will hold her back.”

Interested in judo from an early age, Stephanie started competing properly when she was a teenager. Battling through pain to take part, she eventually got involved in British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) competition – winning bronze in this year’s finals.

“She determined to get the gold in next year’s competition,” Wendy added. “It’s a lot of hard work for her, but she’s not happy when she isn’t winning.”

For Stephanie, securing the USW Sport Recognition Award also gave her a chance to get one up on her siblings, Mitchell, 22, who is a USW forensic science graduate, and sister Deryn, who’s 12.

“Both Mitchell and Stephanie took part in the Olympic Torch Relay when it was in South Wales for the 2012 Games in London – which was obviously great for both of them – and he has won lots of awards in sport,” Wendy added.

“Deryn has also won lots of honours. She competes in the visually impaired categories in judo, because she’s quite badly shortsighted.

“But the USW Sport honour was one that Stephanie was really proud of, one just for her.

“It was a really proud moment, for her to be able to say that she’d won this honour through her own endeavour, was one she was really delighted with.”       

She also thanked the USW staff and other supporters for helping Stephanie to succeed.

“If it wasn't for the accommodation and support staff taking time out to help Stephanie get her to lessons and get the train to work in Cardiff, and her tutors’ dedication and support, she would have found university life a lot harder,” Wendy said.

“She’s also dedicated her award to everyone who helped her, including her coaches Wayne Dyer and Nick Kokotaylo, her gym buddy and coach Steve Withers, and the family and friends who see her struggle day to day but who help by pushing her.”   

#sociology #sport #BUCS