Karen Darke has crossed mountain ranges, sea kayaked thousands of miles and skied 372 miles – all while being paralysed from the chest down
Karen Darke shows off her Silver Medal from the London 2012 Paralympics|Phil Searle/ParalympicsGB
Karen Darke has crossed the Tien Shan and Karakoram mountain ranges by bike, sea-kayaked 1200 miles from Vancouver to Juneau in Alaska, climbed El Capitan, traversed the Greenland icecap on skis, cycled the length of the Japanese archipelago and won a silver medal in the 2012 London Paralympics. Yes, paralympics – Darke has achieved all this whilst being paralysed from the chest down following a sea cliff climbing accident aged 21.
“Disability is a state of mind, not a state of body,” Karen Darke| Natasha Sebire
“I guess overcoming the shock of becoming paralysed in the first place was the hardest thing of all,” she tells OAG, “but ultimately it was down to a simple choice: live life as fully and enthusiastically as possible, or else sit around and be miserable. It wasn’t a difficult choice to make!”
Despite such an impressive résumé of adventure, Darke isn’t about to slow the pace, as she trains for Rio 2016. “After winning a silver medal in London 2012,” she says, “I considered what my motivation was to continue on through another Olympic cycle. Of course aiming to win gold is one aspect, but equally it’s about being part of such a positive focus, staying fit and healthy, and always learning with the team how to become better versions of ourselves.”
Karen Darke on a Portaledge|Natasha Sebire
Words: Dan Wildey