On Thursday 19th September, Ade Adepitan joined us for the third installment of our Google Talks@ series as part of our Google & Zenith | Performics Partnership.
Ade Adepitan is a well-known TV presenter and Wheelchair Basketball Paralympian. A household name, he first graced our screens on CBBC’s X-Change and has since presented countless sporting events including the BAFTA award winning coverage of the 2012 Paralympics, The 2014 Sochi Winter Games, The IPC Athletics, The 2016 Invictus Games and the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
His work in advocating for people with disabilities started way before that, and resulted in him being awarded an MBE for services to disability sports way back in 2005.
Ade developed polio at 15 months old and used calipers throughout his childhood before switching to a wheelchair. As a teenager, he carried out a sponsored walk for charity – from this he was spotted in the local newspaper and approached to join a sports school for people with disabilities.
If there is one human who has overcome adversity, it’s Ade. His determination, motivation, and fantastic positivity for life were absolutely delightful and inspiring to witness as he talked with journalist and author Hannah Beckerman.
The wheelchair had always been a menace in Ade’s life. Ade, sadly explained how he felt ashamed about having a disability, and how he avoided all mirrors and windows in order not to see his reflection. In his words, there was a huge “stigma of the wheelchair.”
However, what once was his menace became arguably his best friend when he joined a sports school for people with disabilities, where he gained his independence. There, his disability went out of the window, as he was surrounded by athletes (and could just focus on being ‘nuts about sport!’).
Surround yourself with enablers
Ade claims that one of the key pinnacles to his sporting success was having ‘enablers.’ In Ade’s case, his primary ‘enablers’ were two people named Owen and Kay – who found him in the local newspaper. His enablers believed in him and served as his superpower. Ade puts huge emphasis on surrounding yourself with those who inspire you, believe in you, who get you…and in return for this, he reiterated, you must appreciate those people around you; you must breed positivity.
Everybody has setbacks – and everybody can overcome them
If there’s one thing that highlights the adversity that Ade has faced – it may be the fact that it took 16 YEARS of courage, perseverance and set-backs before being selected for team GB in 2000. Ade got cut seven times from the national team. However, this did not stop him. Determined, he trained and trained and trained. He learnt from his setbacks. He researched his heroes and reflected on the tough times in his life. Ade argued that you actually need the lows to the highs, because all of those knockbacks, all of those thousands of hours on the court were for that ultimate moment, the moment of winning Bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics – something he described feeling like every Christmas, every birthday in one x 1,000!
Find your passion
A last point that Ade gave was for everybody to ‘find their passion.’ For him, it was sport. For you it could be cooking, data programming, writing. He argues that you should face your doubts, and take that leap, because when you find your passion, then you’ll feel complete.