'Surfing turned my life around' - World Para Surf Champion from Cornwall wins gold in USA

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report from Newquay

A woman from Cornwall who has cerebral palsy says learning how to surf has 'changed her life'.Charlotte Banfield, who also has epilepsy and autism, used to be afraid of the water.

Now the 25-year-old from Penryn has become the top winner at the ISA World Para Surfing Championship in California.

Team England finished away in fourth place largely supported by Charlotte Banfield's win Credit: ISA WORLD PARA SURF CHAMPIONSHIP

2023 was the biggest world championships to date with 184 athletes competing from 27 countries.

She says "I'm really proud of where I am now" after winning the gold medal at Huntington Beach but admits it has been a difficult few years.

Charlotte started surfing with a six-week surf therapy course with the Wave Project when she was 12 years old and facing expulsion.

"My grades were really bad, I was kicking off a lot and it was all because I was being bullied."

"I didn't have any hobbies, any friends, I generally really hated life."

Charlotte thrived with the sport and built up to her first World Para Surfing Championship competition in 2021.

She came away with a silver medal however after a serious seizure during the competition it was not clear if it was safe for her to continue surfing.

Charlotte says the uncertainty over her future with the sport "made me feel really depressed"."I got really sad, I put on a lot of weight and I never thought I'd be able to compete again."

Thankfully after adjustments to her medication, she was able to return to the water and bagged the gold medal.

She says, "Winning gold was amazing, but I'm more proud of the fact that I've managed to bounce back from what was the worst time of my life. And now I feel like it's the best time of my life."

A day Para Surf Champion Charlotte Banfield says she’ll never forget! Credit: Instagram/ charlotte.gail.banfield

Her coach Mike Young says she's undergone a huge transformation and he's "so proud" of her.

"It was a moment that we've been working for for about four years now and really good for other people who want to get into the sports as well. Charlotte's an inspiration to everybody."