Ali McWeeny - Why We All Need to Focus on Ability

Adie Blanchard | 2014-08-06 04:50:14

Whilst searching through the internet I came across something I found truly inspirational, showing that it really is all about focusing on ability, and not the things a person can’t do.

At the age of 20, Ali McWeeny was in a life changing accident where the boat she was in capsized and the boat propeller cut her leg so severely that it required amputation. Although doctors told her she had to change her hobbies away from sport and her career goal (to be a PE teacher) she refused.


The incredible thing here is that this didn’t stop Ali, in fact she was pressing dumbbells in her hospital bed and was determined to get back to powerlifting. Whilst most powerlifters rely on a wide base for balance and stabilisation to lift such heavy weights in the squat, bench press and deadlift, after she had recovered she proceeded to compete using one leg. If this doesn’t show a positive focus on ability rather than disability or what someone can’t do then I don’t know what does.

For anyone who has tried a one legged squat I’m sure you’ll agree that it isn’t the easiest of exercises, yet Ali has trained and perfected a technique which has seen her squat over 100 lbs whilst she deadlifts over 200 lbs. Ali states she has been positive about what happened because if she hadn’t been then it would just hold her back. She certainly shows that goals can be achieved from the worst of situations. Since then she has raised money from an indiegogo campaign in 2012 to help her purchase a new prosthetic leg to allow her to return to her extreme sport hobbies too.

The point I want to get across here is that many people may be affected by something which has a profound impact on their life, however this is often when it can be crucial to focus on the things that can be done rather than what can’t. We all might look up to our sporting heroes for example and wish we could run as fast as them, play as well as them or lift as much as them, but more often than not how far we have progressed (relative to our own situation and our own capabilities) shows the most determination and achievement. Instead of illness and injury always being seen as negative, it’s often when we need to see it as an opportunity to improve and become better than ever before.

Adie Blanchard – Researcher