Leeds Rhinos PDRL player James King is no stranger to overcoming a challenge and is looking forward to running his first 10k in the Run With The Rhinos Reimagined event on Sunday.
The 22-year-old will be part of the virtual team- featuring hundreds Leeds Rhinos supporters, staff and legends- helping to raise money for Leeds Rhinos Foundation and the Rob Burrow Fund this weekend.
James was diagnosed with Macular Dystrophy aged 12 after waking up one day and realising that he was struggling to see things clearly. The condition has affected his central vision and left him partially sighted.
Despite this, James has always refused to be beaten and last year decided to build on his passion for all things rugby league by taking up PDRL, which was set up to offer players with physical disabilities the chance to play the sport they love.
Looking back at the past 18 months, King says that getting involved in PDRL with the Foundation has had a dramatic impact on his life, even providing the catalyst for achieving top grades in his studies.
“I will never forget my PDRL debut, in front of thousands of fans at Castleford in a half-time exhibition. I honestly believe I came away from my first game as a completely different person and since then I’ve continued to develop as a player and as a person.
“I recently completed my BA Archaeology degree at University and received First-Class Honours which I don’t think would have been possible without joining the team, as the work ethic and determination that my teammates display has been so inspiring for me.”
Whilst he was succeeding off the field, the disruption to community sport caused by the COVID-19 pandemic left James searching for different ways to keep active and look after his physical fitness.
“I was constantly looking online at how I could stay fit and fill that void of not playing rugby during lockdown. I decided to start running and do some basic exercises and aerobic workouts in my garage which has kept me ticking over until we can get back to regular training.
“Having a routine with running also helped me mentally as it ensured that I had something different to do each day other than my university work and got me out of the house regularly.”
It was when his PDRL teammate Tommy Pouncey suggested that the players could take part in Run With The Rhinos this year that James realised he could use this passion for exercise to help make a difference for two causes close to his heart.
As well as giving back to the charity that has helped him achieve his sporting dreams, James, an avid Rhinos fan, was also inspired to do something in support of one of his rugby league heroes.
“Playing in the PDRL team has helped me discover a huge amount of motivation to challenge myself in all aspects of life, so the opportunity to take on a 10k for the first time was a no brainer for me. It’s great to be able to give something back to Leeds Rhinos Foundation, and the fact it’s also raising money for Rob Burrow and his family is all the motivation I need to take part.
“Rob has given so much to the Rhinos and the game of rugby league. He’s been a true inspiration throughout his career and now in his battle with MND. It will be an honour and a privilege to do my bit to support him and his family at this time.”
JOIN THE WITH RUN WITH THE RHINOS RE-IMAGINED TEAM
If you would like to get involved with the Run with the Rhinos event, CLICK HERE to find out more.
To donate to James and our Run With The Rhinos Reimagined team CLICK HERE.
JOIN THE STRAVA RUN WITH THE RHINOS GROUP
All those taking part can test their times against fellow runners by joining the Run With The Rhinos Strava running group by CLICKING HERE.
For more information on Run With The Rhinos 2020 Reimagined, email firstname.lastname@example.org.