Ruby is her name but gold is her aim as she prepares to fly the Northern Ireland flag at the British Disabled Trampoline Championships next weekend.
15-year-old Ruby Deazley was diagnosed with an extremely rare condition called acromicral dysplasia, which is characterized by very short stature, short limbs and stiff joints.
There are very few recognized cases of the disease worldwide and only a handful in the UK. The 4ft 4in teenager from North Belfast is the only person in Northern Ireland diagnosed with the disease.
The Belfast Galaxy Trampoline Club is Ruby’s antidote, an environment where she feels safe, gets the support she needs and loves the trampoline for a number of reasons under the supervision of head coach Denise Beagon.
One reason is competition. Ruby has already won championship gold in 2018 and 2019 and is hoping to step onto the podium again next Saturday.
The Utilita Arena Birmingham is the venue for the Jaffa British Trampoline, Tumbling and DMT Championships, with Ruby competing in the handicap section.
Ruby has revealed her hopes for the Championships in Birmingham while explaining how her condition is affecting her.
“It’s hard to be different from everyone your age, and sometimes I get stares from people because I’m small,” said the Dominican College student.
“But my friends and family are very supportive of me. People may react to you, but you get used to it after a while.
“I love trampoline because it’s so much fun and because of the camaraderie with my teammates. I won gold in the handicap section of the British Championships in 2018 and 2019, then went to the Spring Cup in Telford in May and won bronze.
“There is no judgment in the disability section, as we each have different challenges. I’m hoping for a medal next week, but if I don’t win one, it doesn’t matter.
“Ruby was diagnosed with acromicric dysplasia when she was six years old,” explained Ruby’s mother, Elaine.
“It’s a rare disease… There are only 35 cases in the world. No one knows if it’s degenerative or not. There’s a woman in France with it and she’s in her sixties.
“It’s affecting her bones and her hands, and she’s had hand surgery to help. But she’s a feisty little thing. She wants to stay in shape and she wants to compete – and the trampoline offers both.
“She loves it. There’s such a great team at Galaxy and Denise has been amazing with them – there’s such a bond there.
“People often look at her because she’s small…She’s a teenager now, so she can be quite depressed sometimes. And she’s also very humble: she’ll be competitive and want to be the best, but she won’t want to let’s make a fuss if she comes first.
When Ruby started, she was the only competitor in her handicap section, so she set about beating her own scores. Rising to British level, she comes up against competitors with various disabilities, including autism and multiple sclerosis.
“When we see Ruby at our club, we don’t see a disabled trampolinist, we just see Ruby,” Denise said.
“It can be overwhelming when people look at her, so she really enjoys coming to the club.
“I am a specialist teacher, but every child has special needs; I’m just doing what I was taught. But it was an eye opener to see the reactions Ruby sometimes has.
“However, she has a fabulous spirit and we are looking forward to the Championships in Birmingham where Ruby can express herself freely.”
Ruby competes in the Jaffa Trampoline, Tumbling & DMT British Championships at Utilita Arena Birmingham on October 1 at 2pm