From prison to the Rio Games, via Parliament

Craig Green training at the YMCA Gym at the Cresset EMN-150225-134801009
Craig Green training at the YMCA Gym at the Cresset EMN-150225-134801009

A former convict who has turned his life around is now looking to star at the Paralympics.

Cyclist Craig Green, who was jailed five years ago for growing cannabis, is setting his sights on the Rio Games in 2016.

Before then, the 33-year-old gym co-ordinator from Adderley in Bretton will swap lycra for black tie style when he attends an awards ceremony at the House of Commons on March 12.

Craig, who was born with a rare condition called Poland syndrome which limits the use of his right hand and pectoral muscle, will be representing the YMCA Gym which is shortlisted for the Accessible Britain Awards 2015.

The awards recognise those making an outstanding contribution to inclusive and accessible communities for the 12.2 million disabled people across the UK.

The House of Commons is a much more pleasant venue than where Craig was sent to in 2010 when caught growing cannabis in a barn.

He said: “I did not need the four years in prison to change. I changed when I stopped having a cloudy mind.

“I ended up as an orderly at the prison gym and earned some qualification. After a year behaving well I went to the YMCA and started assisting gym sessions. Once released, when the gym co-ordinator job came up in January, 2013, I got it.”

Whilst working at the gym, based at The Cresset, in Bretton, Craig ran the London Marathon before finding his calling as a cyclist.

He said: “Five days after the marathon I went to a festival for para sports. I did some testing with British Cycling and Triathlon and they invited me on to some training camps.”

Success soon followed with a win in a cycling time trial series on the road and credible finishes in other international events.

As the British number two in the MC5 category, whose competitors have the least-impacting disability, Craig is hoping to find out in the autumn whether he will be joining Team GB in Brazil.

“If they take two people I’m definitely going,” he said.

In the meantime Craig, who is currently looking for sponsorship, hopes to be picking up another award when he attends the Commons.

The gym is up against two other competitors in the ‘Innovative use of Buildings, Spaces and Places’ category, including the Nene Park Trust which runs Ferry Meadows.

Craig believes the gym is nominated after helping someone to walk for the first time in 10 years and for its stroke rehabilitation class.

He added: “I’m very excited. I did not think the work we do would go all the way to London. I told gym fitness manager Julie Martin that to go to Downing Street or the House of Commons would be nice and she said it was the Commons.”