A teenager with a rare gene disorder who was told she would never be able to pick up a tennis racket has returned from the Special Olympic World Games as a double gold medal winner.
Lily Mills, 18, won both the singles and mixed doubles gold in the tennis tournament at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi this month (March 2019).
She is ranked number two in the UK for female tennis player with learning disabilities and has been competing since the age of 12 and won dozens of silver and gold medals at local and national levels.
Lily who is a SEND student at New City College's Hackney campus said:
I was really proud to represent Team GB in Abu Dhabi. It was a really good and fun experience. Tennis has given me opportunities to travel, meet new people and try new things.
Her success is all the more remarkable as she was diagnosed at a few days old with sepsis and a form of meningitis. Doctors put her on life support for a week and told her mother she only had a 50/50 chance of survival. Tests also showed that she had galactosemia, a disorder where the body cannot produce sugar present in dairy foods and breast milk. It means Lily whose condition has left her with learning disabilities and osteoporosis, has to follow a strict diet.
But tennis, which is a high impact sport is good for her bone strength and helps to improve her motor skills.
She also starred in a promotional film before the Games, alongside top boxer David Haye, England football manager Gareth Southgate and Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds.