"I was born in London with a rare progressive disorder called Dejerine-Sottas. This is a peripheral neuropathy and means having no reflexes, little sensation, low muscle tone and lack of motor control and a double spinal fusion.
However, this has given me an amazing opportunity to represent my country, Ireland, in Para Dressage. I am aiming for the Paralympics, and I have two very talented horses Cleverboy (Charlie) owned by Bronte Watson and a younger horse owned by us, Dark Diamond (DD). Being able to ride and feel free when you cannot walk independently and being able to compete, never mind represent my country, is uplifting!
My family fought for me to go to mainstream school, working hard on exercise and therapy including horse riding, aged 4. I am so grateful to family and friends for all their support.
Riding has been a huge part of my life, physically and emotionally, and I have successfully competed at international level since the age of 10.
At 14, I became the youngest in the world to win a 2* International and have since gone onto win 3* Internationals. It was a privilege to be asked to carry the Olympic torch in 2012 - a day I will never forget.
Our lives as a family were rocked in 2015, when my older brother James died, aged 20, saving another life in New Zealand. He was the kindest and most giving young man I have ever known, and it hurts. I had an 8-hour operation on my back in 2011 for a double spinal fusion and it was James who was there when I came out of the anaesthetic.
In 2016, I studied Biology at Warwick University and graduated with a First-Class Honours in Biological Sciences. Studying at university in a wheelchair has worked surprisingly well. I am now working as an Environmental Advisor in London.
I found a lovely safe horse (Roo) and started competing Internationally again, with my Irish Citizenship for Ireland, and went onto win a 3*International for them in 2018.
In 2019, I enjoyed being part of the Irish Team at The European Championships in Rotterdam and I qualified for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games. In 2021, I won the CPEDI3* International in Munich with Cleverboy gaining his Mers for Tokyo Paralympics!
It costs £1,000 a month to keep one horse and two horses are necessary for competing at this level! So, it costs £24,000 just to keep the horses and considerable more to compete! I am so well supported by my sponsors listed below, in relation to equipment - please do check them out! The rest is self-funding! I now need to raise £30,000 to cover the expenses until Tokyo Paralympics 2021! Without some funding coming in I will, unfortunately, not be able to keep going!
I should have chosen a less expensive sport!
I am determined to make this dream a reality and so really do need your help financially or with fundraising. I would like to achieve this not only for myself, but for my parents and younger brother, my friends and friends of James who have been raising money, but most importantly for James, as he always believed I would make it to the Paralympics."
Michael put in an excellent performance, getting 75.179% in the team test. You can follow Michael on his Facebook page. I look forward to seeing him perform in the Paris Olympics. Hopefully we can all nip over to watch Michael in the arena. He is a shining example of what you can do if you believe in yourself.