Ironman Triathlete, Sam Holness believes his autism is his ‘superpower’ and wants to motivate others like him to participate in sport to help with their wellbeing.
As an openly autistic runner and from the BAME community, ‘Super Sam’ ~ as he is known ~ will be participating in the Therme Manchester Marathon this Sunday 3rd April and hopes it will inspire others like him to follow his lead.
Although he didn’t speak until the age of six, Sam went on to achieve a degree in Sports Science at St Mary’s University, London and now gives speeches to groups around the world, inspiring people to overcome challenges, and to teach them about the benefits of sport. Indeed, it has enabled him to build his confidence and self-esteem as well as improving his communication and social skills.
Sam’s key message is ‘autism doesn’t have to limit your dreams’ and his goal is to motivate people with intellectual disabilities to participate in sport, and to make them aware that autism can be a strength and a superpower.
Whilst his autism presents a variety of challenges, Sam has the ability to focus for long periods and undertake repetitive tasks, which makes endurance sports perfect for him. Many sportspeople often struggle with the daily regime of rigorous training, but Sam thrives in repetition.
On a global stage, Sam is challenging the stereotypes for neurodiverse people and is helping to create a legacy for neurodiverse athletes’ access to endurance sports careers, as he explains:
“I am so excited about running the Therme Manchester Marathon because it will help to make people more aware about autism and neurodiversity.
“Racing at the Therme Manchester Marathon during Autism Awareness Week is going to be amazing. I hope that my story motivates others like me, with autism, to take up sports and run marathons, and that it helps to convince people that those with autism can be great athletes. I have never been to Manchester before, so I am looking forward to racing and getting a PB – I am trying to run in sub 3hrs.”