Charlotte Payne: Deaf athlete with a bright future ahead

This week, Signature got in contact with Charlotte Payne, a British Champion GB athlete who has been deaf since early childhood. Charlotte shares with readers where her love for sport derived from as well as some of the challenges she has faced as a deaf athlete.

  1. Hi Charlotte, first, could you please introduce yourself to our weekly readers.

Hiya! My name is Charlotte Payne. I am 21 years old and a Team GB international hammer thrower. I’m a 2x British Champion in my event and last year I came 2nd at the European U23 Championships. I also competed at the World Championships.

I have been deaf since I was 3 years old but have just received my cochlear implant after I suddenly lost all my remaining hearing last year!

  1. Can you tell us a bit more about where your passion for sport began, and did someone in particular inspire you to become an athlete?

I have always been quite active, taking part in many sports when I was younger. I was very fortunate that my parents gave up so much of their time to drive both me and my older brother to lots of different clubs. I was that annoying little sister who just followed my brother everywhere he went so when he started athletics, of course I joined in too! He was the one who first started to take part in throwing events, however, he wasn’t too happy when I started to beat him!

  1. Can you share some of the particular challenges that you have faced as a deaf athlete and how have overcome them?

Competing as a deaf athlete in a mainstream sport has come with its challenges. I have had to learn as I go and figure out what support I need to be able to access what all my competitors can access. There’s a lot of communication that I often miss, such as officials explaining competition rules or team meetings when we compete abroad. I have made friends with lots of officials and team staff over the years who have started to understand what support I need. They are so lovely and often double check I have heard all the information in a one-to-one conversation. It has taken a long time to learn to advocate for myself though!

  1. Can you expand on where your drive for success comes from, and do you have a drive to make an impact?

Over the years, I have started to realise that I can really make a difference! Growing up, I struggled to find many people in sport who I felt like I could relate to being deaf. I want to be that role model for other deaf people to help them realise that they shouldn’t be held back by other people’s expectations of them. Doctors told my parents when I was first diagnosed with a hearing loss that I would never speak, read, or balance properly. It’s so easy to succumb to these expectations and mentally hold yourself back from achieving everything you are capable of. I really hope to show people that being deaf doesn’t make you any less capable than anyone else!

  1. What so far has been your proudest sporting moment, and what emotions did you feel through these moments?

My proudest moment so far was winning my first British title! I was the youngest athlete in my competition and on that day, I achieved so many of my biggest goals all at once! I became the youngest British female to ever throw 70m! 70 metres is a magic number for female hammer throwers as it’s such a huge marker, so to throw 70 for the first time ever on my way to winning my first title, made the day even sweeter. I still get goosebumps every time I think of that day and the emptions I went through. It was also so windy that day which created lots of feedback on my hearing aids, so I was proud of how I handled that and that it didn’t deter me from fulfilling my goals.

  1. How do you and your coach adapt to attending sporting events as a deaf individual?

I am very fortunate to have a big support team who are all so understanding including my parents who really help me in lots of situations. At competitions, my dad comes everywhere with me, right up until the call room to help with any communications. It can get quite draining trying to figure out what’s going on all the time which is not ideal whilst I’m preparing to compete- I need all the energy I can get- so having someone with me helps with some of that stress.

When I’m in the middle of the stadium though, we often communicate better than most as I can lip-read my coaches from afar and we have got some sign for some of my key technical cues!

  1. What advice would you give to someone who is apprehensive about pursuing their passion for sport?

Just go for it! Putting yourself out of your comfort zone can be scary but the benefits you will get from it will make it so worth it! I honestly don’t know who I would be without my sport, having a goal that I wake up and focus on every single day, giving my life purpose. It has saved me on many occasions.

  1. What key piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

I wish I learned to advocate for myself earlier. I used to be very private about my hearing loss- pretending it didn’t exist. During every conversation, I would just smile and nod and hope it was the appropriate reactions which didn’t work out when someone was asking me a question or delivering bad news. Having the right support can make accessing the world so much easier, so, telling people how best to help can make your world so much bigger! People are normally so helpful in these situations, and if they’re not, that’s their problem!

  1. Finally, do you have any aspirations for the future, either in your sporting career or just in general?

I have my sights firmly set on the Olympics- it’s the pinnacle of our sport and what every athlete dreams of! I want to continue to improve and evolve and now with my cochlear implant, I experience the world in a totally new way!

Here at Signature, we would like to thank Charlotte for taking time out of her sporting endeavours to share with us more about her successes as a deaf athlete. We wish her the best of luck in the future and have confidence in her hope to compete at the Olympics.



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