Woman born with no arms becomes official Olympics masseuse… giving soothing rubdowns with her FEET
Super-strong feet: Susan Kent qualified as a top sports massage therapist three years ago – but has always dreamed of working with disabled sportsmen and women
A woman born with no arms has won a role as an official masseuse for the British Paralympics team – she will be using her feet to give the world-class athletes a rub-down.
Sue Kent – who was born with short limbs after her mother took morning sickness drug, Thalidomide, when she was pregnant – has been a trained massage therapist for three years. But she has always dreamed of being part of the Paralympics.
The mother-of-two said: ‘It was a personal goal I’d had as I’d wanted to see if I could be involved in sport in some way at a high level.
‘For the guys at the Paralympics to be doing what they’re doing is phenomenal. I can’t wait to be part of it.’
Sue believes she is the only masseuse in the UK who is trained to use her feet to soothe aches and pains.
While her clients lie on a padded mat on the floor, Sue sits on a bench and works on their muscles with her super-strong feet.
She said: ‘I treat a lot of men and have had weightlifters as it can give a very firm massage.
‘The majority of people I have treated
are curious at first but then they say it feels like a really big hand –
but it’s better as you’re covering more surface area.’
Sue, who works at a clinic in Mumbles,
near Swansea, has experience of working at sports events, like
triathlons, runs and an Ironman competition.
She says she has never let her handicap stop her from leading an active life and enjoys swimming, ballet and horse riding.
Mission accomplished: Sue has won a role as an official masseuse for the 2012 paralympics. The picture on the right shows the mother-of-two using her feet to massage a client’s palm
She said: ‘I loved ballet and I think that’s why I have good strength in my legs to do the massages.’
The 49-year-old also uses her feet for things around the house which most people tackle with their hands – including cooking and cleaning.
She encourages people not to be daunted by the unknown – but to try the experience of a massage by foot.
‘I have never tried to hide the fact
that I have no proper arms. I always make sure the client is aware of it
before they book an appointment.
‘While some people do not like feet, there are many people for whom it is not an issue.’
Foothold: Susan’s relaxing techniques having attracted the attention of the British Paralympic team
She adds: ‘I hope I inspire other disabled
people and show that they don’t need to do a job that’s just about
sitting behind a desk with a computer.
‘I also wanted to raise the profiles
of disabilities in a different way the more people see disability, the
more normal it becomes and the less people will be stupid.’
Thalidomide was hailed as a wonder-drug in the 1950s and 1960s and was given to pregnant women for morning sickness.
But more than 10,000 children around the world were born with severe deformities because of the side effects.