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All hail Dora the French Bulldog whose restorative powers have given wheelchair basketball star Jude Hamer a new lease on life, writes Tum Balogun.
The former Loughborough Lightning star credits her seven-month-old canine with helping her and partner, Lauren Rowles, cope in a challenging year which - among other things - included a prolonged spell on the sidelines with a serious concussion.
And a critical medical intervention to treat her previously undiagnosed endometriosis.
For Hamer, a vocal advocate for both mental and women's health, Dora provided purpose in the hardest periods of her rehabilitation.
Which is now thankfully behind her ahead of a Commonwealth Games debut next month.
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With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Hamer hopes sharing her story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.
She said: “I was about a month or so into my recovery and was told I wasn’t going to go back to basketball for another month or so.
“We always wanted to get a dog, so we said, ‘let’s just start looking and see what’s out there’ and we found one within two days.
“She’s just the funniest thing, I love this dog, she’s ridiculous.
“I don’t know if you know French Bulldogs but there are
the funniest characters, she is hilarious and so loving.
“There have been some dark times for me this year where I really haven't wanted to do anything, haven’t wanted to get out of bed - really struggled.
“But having her and knowing that she needs me to get up, feed and walk her and just having her here.
“That she unconditionally loves and always wants to be with you, it makes a massive difference.
“So yeah, she’s a handful, puppies are not easy, but I wouldn’t change her, she’s amazing.”
This summer, Team Scotland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise over 250 athletes, and having secured her place on the squad, Hamer is honoured to compete in wheelchair basketball’s Commonwealth debut.
Though, she remains wary of the opposition on account of the limited information on their likely opponents and even a little anxious about the 3x3 format adopted for the games in Birmingham.
“[I’m] nervous, it’s a completely different format,” she said.
“I’m used to playing 5x5, where there’s 12 of us.
“You have subs and longer games so this is a completely different way of playing and there'll be a lot more spotlight on a lot fewer of us.
“So nervous but very excited about it as well.
“I watched Glasgow and Gold Coast and always wanted to be a part of the CWG,” she added on the historic debut of the event at the games.
“But I didn't think it would ever be an event we would get to do so it’s cool that we get to do this.
“It’s hard to tell how we're going to get on until we start playing and see what other teams are like, but my goal would be a medal.
“That'd be amazing.”
National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.