Born Lucky My Life


Born Lucky

Joanne is one of the only people in the world born with no limbs, due to a condition called total amelia. She helps Team GB in their campaign to get bobsleigh into the Paralympics.


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Transcript


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You ready?

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Crazy.

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Amazing. Bonkers.

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I'm Joanne.

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I'm part of a very exclusive club.

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There are only seven people like me on the planet.

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I am in demand all over the world.

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Everybody, Joanne O'Riordan.

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I've been on TV more times than I can remember.

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I've met Westlife AND One Direction.

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I'm a teenage girl!

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My motto in life is that if you want something...

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you've got to go and get it.

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So what makes me so special?

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Is it my easygoing charm?

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I hate being told what to do. I'm an independent woman.

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Or my sense of humour?

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Or was I just born lucky?

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My name is Joanne O'Riordan. I'm 17.

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I was born with total amelia.

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That's Greek for no limbs.

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It's a really rare condition.

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On top of that, I slouch!

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So doctors have put a titanium rod that runs up my spine.

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Other than that, I'm a normal teenage girl.

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I love fashion...

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Thank God I don't have feet - I'd cost my dad a fortune!

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..sports...

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..music...

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# She can't sing She can't dance... #

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..and my dog Sally.

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Ah! She bit my bum!

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I live in Ireland with Anne. That's what I call my mum.

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Yeah, I love calling her Anne. She doesn't respond otherwise.

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And my dad Joe.

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Guess how they came up with my name?

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Joe and Anne. Joanne. Geddit?

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Genius.

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And at the moment, my older brother Steven is here.

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Steven's my fashion advisor. He thinks he's Gok Wan.

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Action!

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And for the last couple of months,

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I've been followed by Mark from the BBC.

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I've always made the most of what I've got,

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with what I like to call my little arm.

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This is the joy stick to drive my chair.

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I can get around...

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..feed myself...

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This takes skill.

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..clean my teeth...

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..walk the dog.

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I use my phone for texting...

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I have muscle pains at the top of my lip if I text too much,

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it gets tired.

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..and games.

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I've even worked out a class way to work my laptop - fairly cool.

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One time, we did one of those, like, tests at school

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and I typed 36 words per minute. I think.

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From a very early age, Joanne was very independent.

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The word no never came into Joanne's vocabulary.

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She was like, "I'm here, I want to do what you're doing,

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"I want to be the same as everybody else.

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"I might be doing it in a completely different way,

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"but I'm actually able to do it."

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Do you want to see One Direction's tour bus?

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It's nicer than the house.

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Look, there's me!

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I've always been encouraged to be independent and I never give up.

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Steven's been filming me since I was a baby.

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I tried legs...

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..and arms,

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but I never really got on with them.

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Frankly, when you've got no limbs, everything's a challenge

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and there are just some things that I can't do by myself.

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This is how I clean my eye.

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Simple stuff like itching...

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Thanks, great.

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..washing...

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I can't see!

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..dressing...

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..and, er, other stuff too.

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I have to go to the bathroom.

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-Are you serious?

-Yes.

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And no! You can't come with me!

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There's nothing straightforward about my life, but is anyone's?

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MUSIC: "Kiss You" by One Direction

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# We can go out any day any night

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# I'll take you there... #

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I say think positive!

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You'll get a whole lot more out of life than if you just mope around.

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This is my bedroom...

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Awkward.

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Because being born this way does have its advantages.

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Photos over here. The best one is the One Direction one.

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-Me and my friend Murin, we met One Direction.

-Have you a favourite?

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Uh, I like them all.

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You can't really have a favourite.

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They're individuals.

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They're not dogs, you don't have a favourite.

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Like, Niall is Irish so he's savage straightaway.

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Harry is ridiculously good looking.

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Louis is hilarious. Zane is ridiculously good looking

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and Liam seems really nice. So they're all just perfect!

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I'm a teenage girl!

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# ..And let me kiss you... #

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The British Olympic bobsleigh team

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want to get their sport into the Paralympics

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and they've asked me to be the guinea pig,

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which is great, because I love going fast.

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They don't practise in the snow,

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they train on a special track in Bath in south-west England.

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My family are sports mad and there's no way they'll want to miss this.

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Team O'Riordan are about to meet Team GB.

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# The sun goes down The stars come out...

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# And all that counts is here and now

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# My universe will never be the same

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# I'm glad you came

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# I'm glad you came Woah-oh-oh... #

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When you're ready!

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It's the first test run of the day

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and Lee, the head coach, sets them off. Go, team, go!

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These are actually the guys

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who will represent Great Britain in the Olympics.

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Oooooohhhh!

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This is where the team practise their starts.

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The bungee cord stops them from running off the end of the track -

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that would be awkward.

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Final safety check!

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And time for my mother to chillax.

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Calm down, Anne.

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I'm nervous, to be honest. But, um, I'll get over it, so I will.

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It's time to meet the team!

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My name's Jacko, I'm the driver.

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-Hi, Jacko.

-This is Stu.

-Hi! How are you doing?

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-Hi, Stu. I love the way he walked up.

-Yeah, stumbling!

-He sits behind me.

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-Then you've got big Bruce.

-Hello!

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-Hi, Bruce. I was looking at your muscles.

-Oh, thank you!

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And then you've got Joel, he's at the back of the sled.

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Ah, you're the smallest.

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Yeah, I'm the little one, I have to get in and tuck in behind them all.

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-You're the cute one!

-Thank you!

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Now these boys, they are world-class sprinters.

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They'll push the sled to nearly 40km per hour

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before they jump in.

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I hope they're not expecting me to do all that pushing and running.

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I like their little routine.

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Right, so what we're going to do is we're going to progress to that

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but, firstly, we're going to go in this -

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our single-man training trolley.

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It's not all for my benefit.

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We're here to test whether this could work as a Paralympic sport.

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The progression is to try and get adapted bobsleigh...

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and as we know, we've got...

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There's many, many servicemen have lost limbs

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and who are able to do adapted bobsleigh.

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And the progression from this is to show that,

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if we can get Joanne in a sled and get down,

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even though we're on a push track, then,

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obviously you're almost the extreme,

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then going from the extreme,

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we can work back and hopefully get teams into the adapted games.

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Time to get the training sled into position.

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These guys are seriously quick.

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The fastest we've travelled in a real bobsleigh in the four-man

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on a track in Canada was 155km an hour

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which is about 92mph.

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At the very bottom of the track,

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that's when you've built up all your speed.

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No backing out now.

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-Oh, he did do it better.

-Does that feel OK?

-It feels good.

-Good.

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-You happy there?

-I'm quite nervous.

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Wooh! # Joanne's got a bobsleigh team. #

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You need to count us in, Joanne.

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Maybe I'll say three and then we'll all go?

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Are you saying three or tree?

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I say tree, like as in a tree in the back yard.

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But counting isn't one, two, tree.

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Shrub...bush...tree...

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Aaagh!

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Just when I think it's all over...

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..hit the rewind button.

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You enjoyed it?

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I love it! That's gas!

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And that was a slow one!

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You know, all I can hear is you screaming.

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Aaaaahhhh! I'm a girl at the end of the day.

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Cushion.

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Now it's time for the real test.

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The proper bobsleigh with all four guys pushing,

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just like in the Olympics.

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This is going to be fast.

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The more people in the sled, the faster it goes - #excitingtimes.

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It was really good! It was really, like, fast and it was really fun.

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The bungee part was probably the best part

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because you think you're going to just crash into that

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and come to a sudden stop, but then you're launched back up the hill.

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Oh, yeah, I think she's lovely, lovely! She's a bit gobby, like.

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She's a very inspirational young lady, definitely.

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As the lads said, she's very gobby. She holds her own.

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Um, she was a good laugh, very good and got stuck in.

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# I'm on top of the world

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# I'm on top of the world... #

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I think that she will remember this for the rest of her life.

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# ..I'm on top of the world... #

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Yeah, I suppose at 92mph, barring my mother driving,

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that's probably the fastest I've ever been.

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My mother always gets over emotional at times like this.

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Joanne was born on the Wednesday morning

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and I can still see myself standing at the side of the bed,

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looking down at Joanne thinking, "What will you ever do?"

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So, I mean, this is a big achievement.

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For me, it's much simpler. What's next?

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I'd love to definitely try it on an icy hill and go from side to side.

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I'd love to do it like that. Maybe we'll crash the Olympics?!

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I've always known that you've got to make the best of life.

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If you're determined and you have a wonderful family

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and friends to support you, anything's possible.

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Especially if you're like me - born lucky.

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Joanne can text faster with her top lip than most people can with their fingers, can eat spaghetti balancing her fork under her chin, and is on first-name terms with her favourite band, One Direction. She is also one of only seven people in the world born with no limbs due to a condition called total amelia. For Joanne, life has its challenges - but so does everyone's - and she's never one to say no. So when the British Olympic bobsleigh team ask her to help them in their campaign to get bobsleigh into the Paralympics, how can she refuse? But when Team GB meet Team O'Riordan they get way more than expected.


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