Motivational. Inspirational

Based: Johannesburg

Nine years ago, Emily got the kind of news that no 11-year-old should ever have to hear. An avid middle distance runner, she was diagnosed with cancer of the left femur. After numerous sessions of chemotherapy failed to reduce the cancer, Emily had to deal with having her left leg amputated at the hip.

A natural athlete, Emily turned her interests from land to water and her love of surfing to swimming. Within a year, she competed in her first Central Gauteng Championships and eight years later, made her Paralympic debut for South Africa in the 100m back stroke at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

Gray, who competes in the S9, SM9 and SB8 classifications, has represented the country in England, Brazil, Holland, Australia and Taiwan. In February, she accomplished her personal best achievement with a fourth place finish in the 400m free-style at the IPC World Championships in Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

Her next goal is to qualify for the 2012 London Paralympic Games and to medal in the 400m Free and Long in London.