Roger was diagnosed with congenital heart disease at the age of 11 after doctors discovered that he had a leaky aortic valve. Despite originally being told that he couldn’t take part in competitive sports, doctors later agreed he could participate but he would need to be closely monitored through yearly hospital appointments to keep an eye on his condition. He has been attending these appointments for the past 39 years, missing just one in 1996 to attend the Atlanta Olympic Games, where he won silver in the 400m and 400m relay.
In his role as a BHF Ambassador for Research, Roger will be supporting the work of the nation’s heart charity to help ensure people take their heart health seriously and make sure that an average of 12 babies per day in the UK, born with congenital heart disease, are getting diagnosed and treated quickly and effectively.
Roger said: “When I was diagnosed with congenital heart disease, I was the fastest kid in the school. At 11 years old, I never thought I’d be at risk of getting heart disease, but heart disease doesn’t have a type or an age limit. I have been fortunate to be able to achieve my dreams and not let heart disease stop me – that isn’t always the case.
“But my experience with heart disease doesn’t stop there, like too many other families in the UK. My dad had a heart attack when he was just 50, my mum finding him in the garden. He had been previously diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, one of the most common forms of abnormal heart rhythm and a major cause of stroke. Because heart disease runs in my family, my ten-year-old twin sons, George and Max, have to now be screened for a heart condition as they are at a higher risk.
“That’s why I’m supporting the BHF. It’s made me realise how important the research that the BHF funds is for families like mine. My hope is that, if anyone gets a diagnosis like I did, they know that it doesn’t have to be the end."