My afternoon with Nicolas Hamilton

Meeting Nicolas in London 2017

I joined the multicultural network committee at work as a result of going to a few events and an interest to see what steps the firm was or wasn’t doing in that regard. I’ve always been an advocate for not being those who stand on the outside but hold loud opinions on what should be done — we’ve all been guilty at one point I’m sure.

For this year’s diversity and inclusion week, members of my team managed to get Nicolas Hamilton. For those who don’t know Nicolas was born with cerebral palsy, his parents were actually told that he would never walk and that his eyesight was extremely poor and would deteriorate as he got older. Despite the unfortunate start to life, in 2015 Nicolas became the first disabled athlete to compete in the British Touring Car Championship and stands only among 6 well known disabled drivers across professional motorsport. He is also the younger brother of F1 three-time world champion (soon to be four) Lewis Hamilton. Naturally I was aquatinted with Lewis first before Nicolas became a public figure in his own right. They are, to my knowledge, the only black family in professional motorsport and their involvement has peaked my interest over the years, much like how Tiger Woods’ importance in my life was second to my father at one point, these figures have always been flag bearers for changing perceptions towards black people and it was an incredible experience to meet Nicolas.

In meeting Nic I found someone who’s probably more comfortable in his own skin than most people I come across in almost any walk of life. This is clearly something that has guided Nic into being in his own words “a Paralympian competing in the Olympics”. He simply sees it as this,

people have tons of things be it mental, emotional or physical that inhibit their adjustment to the world.

While on a daily basis he can’t avoid confronting his own physical limitations, it’s made him more adept than some of his able bodied counterparts and competitors. When speaking he contrasted his own situation with us able bodied people, that we may have our own unspoken limitations that we dare not talk about or confront which ultimately also cripples one way or another. I can go on to list many things going on people’s lives that limit them in ways they may not realise. This was Nic’s story when him and his parents thought it was a good idea to be in wheel chair when he moved to high school instead of continuing to walk in such a demanding environment. That wheelchair became his only and real limitation more so than the condition itself. Every trip with his brother or family would simply be a case of every person he would interact with talk past him and him constantly looking up to a world he seemed to no longer belong in. You could say these experiences led to the day where quit the wheelchair whilst still in high school and relearn to try walk again after having been dependent and becoming rigid over time. We all possibly have our own wheelchairs that need quitting and if anything this is a call to take courage and confront these disabilities in whichever form they are.

Thank you again for your time. Hope you enjoyed reading this, promise to try make these a little shorter and more concise..roll with me :)