Helena Lucas MBE
Paralympic Gold & Bronze medallist. Inspirational Speaker.
Helena Lucas MBE, was born with no thumbs and limited extension in her arms. Her parents were told by doctors she would never be able to write or use scissors and would probably struggle to do other things most of us take for granted. Helena proved them all wrong, she is the first to say there is nothing she cant do apart from give the thumbs up sign!
Helenas dream since she was six years old was to compete at the Olympics, however sailing was not the obvious sport at first. Terrified in the front of her parents boat at the age of eight, it was not until she was eleven that she developed a passion for sailing and realised she also had a talent for it.
Helena is in the unusual position of having done both Olympic and Paralympic campaigns. Having sailed the Olympic 470 since 1997 she moved into the Paralympic 2.4mR in 2004 before making her Games debut at Beijing 2008.
One of the biggest decisions Helena had to make was the switch from Olympics to Paralympics. Never having considered herself disabled and always sailed in the able bodied classes since eight, she had concerns about making the switch. Would she get the same buzz, level of competition and enjoyment from competing at the Paralympics? It was the best decision she has ever made and opened her eyes to the Paralympic Games and the amazing athletes that compete.
In July 2006 Helena had the opportunity to step back into the Olympic classes when she was asked by double Olympic gold medallist, Shirley Robertson, to stand in as helm for her Yngling crew for the Pre-Olympic Test event in Qingdao China. Shirley was expecting twins so unable to compete herself. With only 3 days of practice together, Helena and her crew went on to win the Silver medal. She continued to finish on the podium in the build up to the Beijing Paralympics and was a strong medal contender going into the regatta, however finished a disappointing 7th overall.
Helena believes her experience and disappointment in Beijing is what helped her to becoming Britains sailing golden girl, making history claiming 2.4mR Paralympic gold at London 2012, becoming the first ever female winner of the male dominated Paralympic class and Britain's first ever Paralympic sailing gold medallist.
Helena then went on to campaign for Rio on a quest for her second gold medal. She was the first athlete to be selected for Team GB and after a hard fought week battling on the waters of Rio was in Gold Medal position going into the last race. However she unfortunately picked up a plastic bag on her rudder, costing her the Gold medal and having to settle for Bronze.
Outside of the sporting arena Helena Lucas graduated in 1996 from Southampton Solent University with a BEng Hons in Yacht and Power Craft design. She was married to her long time partner Stephen Thomas in 2010.
In 2013 Helena was awarded the MBE for her services to sailing and also Honorary Doctorate degrees from Winchester, Southampton Solent and Bournemouth Universities. She has been nominated by World Sailing for sailor of the Year twice.