Cameron Radigan: Taking my chance
When he was a toddler, doctors gave Cameron Radigan a 10 percent chance of survival.
He has spent the last 18 years taking that chance, and is the now newest member of Great Britain’s Paralympic archery squad.
Aged two, Cameron was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in his left calf muscle. The tumour had only ever been found in the chest – meaning the procedure, described as ‘experimental’, was given little chance of success.
“You’ve got to grow up quick,” Cameron says. “I grew up in a hospital, which makes you understand things that you shouldn’t when you’re that young.”
“It’s given me this mentality that I might as well do what I want right now, because you don’t know how much time you have left. Live life, have fun, and don’t worry about the future.”
The treatment was successful, preserving Cameron’s life and limb, but his leg deteriorated as the years ticked by and he became increasingly reliant on the use of a wheelchair.
That deterioration was tough on a sporty child. Born in Ayr, Scotland, football was his first love and then kickboxing, in which he competed and won a silver medal at national level, before archery took hold.
“Sport is what drives me, it’s where I can be myself, it’s my escape from everyday life,” he adds. “It’s where I feel equal to everyone else, whereas in day-to-day life, I can feel excluded.”
That feeling of exclusion was most acute at school, where provision for disability was extremely limited. There were times when he couldn’t get in and out of my classrooms with a wheelchair.
He didn’t do any sport at secondary school, because they didn’t have a sporting programme for kids who were wheelchair-bound.
“I had to sit and watch or go to the library and do something else,” Cameron reflects. “Being young and having a disability can be tough.”
“I developed a small group of close friends who knew everything to do with my condition, and they’ve been there for me for years.”
Cameron decided to have his leg amputated in 2018. Eleven days later, he competed at the British National Championships in Scotland.
“I had to convince my surgeon and a consultant that I could shoot about a week after having my surgery,” he says.
“I wanted to do stuff that I shouldn’t have been able to do with my condition. I wanted to hop on one leg, I wanted to be able to ride a bike, and the doctors understood why I wanted to shoot that day.”
Having won the British Disability Championships title back-to-back in 2019 and 2021, Cameron was invited onto the British performance programme.
It was his first time leaving the country, and the first time he’d ever been on an aeroplane.
“Nobody knew who I was but I always felt included,” he recalls.
“There wasn’t the level of pressure I thought there would be. I enjoyed the world championships, and it just helped me get settled.”
In 2023, Cameron has a busy year of competition ahead, with the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games looming next year.
“It’s always been my goal to go to the Paralympics,” he says. “Quite early on I got into that mindset of wanting to be a Paralympic archer.”