28th March 2024

Lifetime Achievement Award for Paralympian. Local paralympic gold medallist, Chris Hunt Skelley, has won a lifetime achievement award at the Disability Sport Yorkshire Awards. 

The announcement of the award, run by the Yorkshire Sport Foundation, came at a black-tie event held at Leeds United’s home ground, Elland Road, on 1st March.

The event saw eleven award presentations in total to celebrate achievements across disabled sport in Yorkshire. Chris (30) took home the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chris, who hails from Yorkshire and the Humber, says it thrilled him to attend the awards dinner in Leeds earlier this month. And to receive the honour.

‘It was wonderful to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Disability Sport Yorkshire Awards. I’m grateful to the Yorkshire Sport Foundation for awarding it to me,’ said Chris. ‘I work hard at judo because I love it. And because it’s a privilege to represent our great country nationally and internationally. To receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from a foundation that does so much to promote inclusion in sport is a real joy. And I’d like to thank the Foundation for the honour.’

Lifetime Achievement Award for Paralympian  - Chris Hunt Skelley MBE, courtesy of Steve Biltcliffe Photography.
Lifetime Achievement Award for Paralympian – Chris Hunt Skelley MBE, courtesy of Steve Biltcliffe Photography.

Gold at the Tokyo Games

Chris won gold at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo and is on track to represent Great Britain at the Paralympic Games in Paris later this year. He’s also named as one of five paralympic ambassadors for Path to Paris. That’s a programme from Team GB and Paralympics GB. And he’s previously been named as a top ten sports personality on the Disability Power 100 List. Chris received an MBE in 2022. 

The Yorkshire Sport Foundation runs the Disability Sport Yorkshire Awards. It’s part of a network of forty-three Sport England National Lottery funded organisations across England. They’re responsible for connecting and influencing providers of sport and physical activity to increase the number and quality of opportunities for participation. The organisation promotes inclusivity in sport. It works across the region to help education around sport and access to physical activities for all groups. Chris says this is essential to encourage better inclusion across all sports and physical activity. He himself is an example of the positive effect that getting involved in sport can effect on a person’s life. 

‘No one should feel locked out of an activity or a sporting ambition or that they might not be welcome because they have to navigate a particular condition or disability,’ says Chris. “It’s no exaggeration to say that judo has seen me through some of the most difficult and challenging times of my life. I owe so much to the sport that I don’t know where I’d be without it. No one should feel a barrier to something that can bring so much good to their lives.’

Ocular albinism

Chris is registered blind and lives with ocular albinism. OA is a rare genetic condition caused by the inability of pigment cells in the eyes to produce normal amounts of pigment. It results in visual disturbances such as blurred vision, difficulty with perceiving depth of field and sensitivity to bright lights. After hearing over again that there was nothing wrong with him, he finally received a diagnosis at the age of 19. That came when he travelled to the US to undergo intense testing of all his physical systems. He first took up judo at the age of 5 and has dedicated himself to the sport ever since. Chris took the gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020. He credits judo with putting him on a path to success. And says that moments like award wins give him the opportunity to see his achievements in a broader context. 

‘I’ve made huge sacrifices over the years and missed out on a lot to carry on training. Putting judo first and always pushing myself further to do well is part of the discipline. As a result, you become very single-minded with your focus. Recognition such as receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Disability Sport Yorkshire Awards feels a bit like coming up for air. I’m so grateful for the acknowledgement of success. But also to be able to show others living with disabilities that you can become exceptional in your chosen field. And that you don’t have to be held back because of the challenges you face. It’s a most important message to get out there.’

Chris is also winner of the UK Social Impact Award. He’s a sought-after speaker on the subjects of:

  • Building resilience
  • Living with a disability 
  • And being a team player, as well as his own personal journey to becoming an elite athlete.

Find out more about Chris here: https://chrishuntskelley.co.uk

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