Xavier is only 10 years old. From the age of 6 he starting to pick up his first national titles: starting with Welsh School’s champion, and has since added to the collection British Schoolboys Indoor Champion, Welsh and English Outdoor Champion, as well as Welsh Alpine Slalom and Giant Slalom Champion.
Xavier had been suffering badly with anxiety after two skiing accidents. After his rehabilitation and return to skiing he has starting running, he has been a completely different boy and running has helped him massively.
Xavier then decided he would raise funds for The Ellie Soutter Foundation.
This is his story:
I never met Ellie Soutter, and I’m pretty sure that she never knew me, but Ellie has had a significant impact on my life, and for that, I will forever be grateful.
In February 2020, whilst training in Austria for the English championships, I was hit by a snowboarder at high speed which fractured my femur. I was airlifted off the mountain and had surgery to put a metal rod in my leg. I was lucky to have amazing care and work with physiotherapists Harris and Ross, who were responsible for getting Katie Ormerod back on the slopes after her injury. However, the mental recovery was harder. I did struggle at times, and the lockdown meant that I wasn’t able to see my friends which made things very hard. I didn’t want to come out of my bedroom and didn’t really want to go out, but with lots of encouragement from my family, I improved and got back on my skis by August.
I struggled mentally, worrying about what people were thinking of me, doubting my ability, and finding myself very anxious. Unfortunately, 2020 hadn’t finished with me yet, and whilst training out in Austria again, I had a freak fall and broke my fibula and tibia. Again surgery was needed. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed so unfair. I was so unhappy and frustrated, and for a while, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to ski again.
My medical and rehab team assembled again for my UK treatment and made sure that my body healed well. Recovery was very hard this time, I felt like I’d done it all before and that it was for nothing. But I didn’t give up and worked harder than ever. I decided that I want to use my injury for good and that I would use the last month of my rehabilitation to set myself a challenge that would help others, and that is why I committed to doing 100K in May for the Ellie Soutter Foundation, to raise fund to help this amazing charity to continue doing their amazing work.
I’ve been joined along the way by lots of supporters including my boot fitters at Rivington Alpine, my coaches, teammates, and friends. The strange thing is, that whilst I was doing this challenge for others, I have found that running has been amazing for my own mental health, and I don’t suffer from the negative thoughts and anxieties that I suffered from before. I’ve now come back to the slope stronger than when I left it, my mind is clear and focused and I feel happier and freer. I’ve now made a commitment to continue running at least twice a week on top of my training and strength and conditioning sessions. It’s only through doing this challenge that I’ve come to realise and feel the benefits of running on my mental health, and for this, I thank Ellie.
I really want to continue raising awareness of mental health in young athletes and encourage them to start running, it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. So my message to everyone is this, please be aware of your need to look after your mental health, do things that make it stronger, even when you don’t feel like it. Be aware of the mental health of others, look out for the signs that things aren’t right, a kind word or a listening ear can literally save a life.
By Xavier Poynton
For more information on the amazing work The Ellie Soutter Foundation do you can check out their website here