IT WAS a touching moment when deaf runner Melanie Jewett heard the crowd cheering her on as she finished a marathon.
And now the athlete will be representing Great Britain in next year’s Deaflympics, which is being hosted by Sofia in Bulgaria.
The games were introduced in 1924 and have been held every four years since.
The 40-year-old, a process co-ordinator for IBM, in Northarbour, Portsmouth, only found out about the games two years ago.
She will be part of Team GB’s marathon runners.
Melanie, who is profoundly deaf, said: ‘My hearing started going when I was 11, but was initially just high pitches.
‘Then nine years ago it started deteriorating until I was left with nothing.
‘I’m not sure why my deafness occurred, it’s possibly hereditary as my uncle had general deafness and my sister has some level of deafness too.
‘But no-one else in my family is as deaf as I became.’
Despite all this, Melanie, of Hedge End, found a passion for running marathons.
‘I ran my first marathon in 2003 and started with the biggie – London,’ added Melanie.
‘I absolutely loved it and have gone on to run 52 marathons or ultras, which are longer than marathons, since then.
‘In some sense it’s difficult as you cannot hear traffic and a lot of conversation can be missed.
‘But sometimes it’s actually quite nice not to be able to hear how heavily someone alongside you is breathing.’
But that all changed when Melanie had her cochlear implant operation in 2010.
She said: ‘When I ran my first London marathon after my operation, it was really emotional as I could hear the crowds cheering rather than just “feel” it.’
Melanie found out about the Deaflympics via Facebook and wants to raise more awareness about the games.
‘Only two years ago did I know it existed, yet it has been in place longer than the Paralympics,’ she said.
‘I’m so excited to wear the Team GB kit and run for my country in the distance I love the most.
‘But, it would be great to gain more awareness and seek funding like the Olympic and Paralympic teams get.’
To sponsor Melanie, email email@example.com.