A GOLFER from Thame has used his sport to regain confidence after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
David Youens, 53, is determined his condition prevent him from playing the game he loves, and hopes his story will encourage others to take up the sport.
More than 100,000 people in the UK have MS, which affects the central nervous system.
The English Federation of Disability Sport has out to encourage disabled people to be more active through its recent campaign ‘Together We Will’, and England Golf, the governing body for amateur golf, is working with clubs across the country to encourage more people with disabilities to play golf.
Mr Youens said: “I have always taken my sport very seriously, so learning about my diagnosis was a massive shock to the system.
“It took a long time for me to be confident in my health and ability to get back out on the golf course.
“I’m really pleased that I have got back involved in the game.
“Although I’m not playing to the same level as before I’m enjoying my golf and my handicap is improving all the time.
“I can play with family and friends and have really competitive games again.”
After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, Mr Youens struggled with his health, relying on a wheelchair for a year.
During bouts of poor health, he was unable to work for long periods, eventually becoming homeless for a short time.
He tried several different disability sports in an effort to rediscover the competitive edge he enjoyed in sport earlier in his life.
After stints playing wheelchair tennis, basketball and rowing, Mr Youens tried out for the Paralympics GB shooting team in 2012, ultimately just missing out on selection.
He added: “It is so important that people with conditions like mine can stay involved in activities, and golf is a brilliant way to do that.
“You can go out and play sport at your own pace without it being too physically demanding if you aren’t feeling well.”
Mr Youens has quickly picked up where he had left off before he became ill, has regained his form and is now aiming to get his handicap into single figures.
He is one of five English golfers sharing their experiences following the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, which shone a spotlight on disability sport.