A patient of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) and international dressage winner has been selected as a torchbearer for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Fourteen-year-old Michael Murphy, who suffers from the rare condition, Dejerine-Sottas (which causes severe muscle weakness and loss of sensation in his limbs) is recovering from spinal surgery that he underwent at the RNOH to correct the curvature in his spine, whereby metal rods were inserted to straighten his back.
Michael is the youngest winner of a 2* Senior Para Dressage international competition.
He was chosen to carry the torch by Lloyds TSB, presenting partners of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. Michael is also part of the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes programme, which helps some of the most talented emerging athletes in the UK during one of the toughest stages of their sporting careers.
Michael has undertaken a number of initiatives as part of the Local Heroes programme, such as visiting schools, appearances at events organised by Barnados, all to inspire others to get involved in sport.
His determination and aspirations to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games soon placed him as one of the favourites for carrying the Olympic torch in 2012.
The announcement was made in person by Ade Adepitan, Paralympic bronze medallist in wheelchair basketball at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.
Ade said this is an amazing opportunity for Michael.
“I carried the Olympic torch in 2004 (in London) and in Beijing in 2008 and it was the best experience,” he said.
“Michael will be welcomed by hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of London and he will be part of the Olympic and Paralympics history. “
Michael said being an Olympic Torchbearer is a once in a lifetime opportunity and will be an amazing experience.
"This has come as a great surprise and I wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for the support from Lloyds TSB and of course my family and friends," he said.
"My main aim is of course to focus on the 2016 Paralympic Games but in the meantime, this gives me the opportunity to be part of London 2012 ."
Michael’s mum, Sue Murphy, said without his coach, Sarah Healing at Penniwells Riding School for the Disabled, Michael wouldn’t be where he is today.
“She has been so supportive and really goes the extra mile,” she said.
“I would also like to say a huge thank you to Mr Nordeen and his team at the RNOH for their specialist support to date and the fantastic correction they have carried out on Michael’s spine.”