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Our Sporting Heroes: How they have excelled despite their dyslexia.

We often see our favourite sports men and women as Super Heroes. Their sporting ability far outshines that of the general public, and for that they are idolised. And rightly so.

However, for many of our sporting heroes the road to stardom was not smooth. Many have had to overcome obstacles, especially during their early studies.

One of the most common, and debilitating challenges that a select few of our sports personalities have had to battle through is Dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a common ailment which affects your ability to read and write. It is commonly also associated with Dyscalculia – the inability/ difficulty comprehending numbers/ numerical symbols.

It is important to know that dyslexia is a learning difficulty, and not a disability.  Those who have dyslexia are in no way lacking in intelligence.

However that being said, many sporting personalities have felt penalised due to their condition, and often speak of how tough school was as a result of this learning difficulty.

Dyslexia Facts and Stats:

  • Approximately 15% of the world’s population have dyslexia – This equates to around 6 million people in the U.K.
  • The first known description of dyslexia was published in 1896.
  • Those with dyslexia are often more creative and better at problem solving than those without.
  • Dyslexia does not affect intelligence.
  • Dyslexia affects both men and women at the same rate – there is no gender differentiation.


Dyslexia in Sporting Heroes | Sports Blog | Stadia Sports

Sporting Personalities who have Dyslexia:


Magic Johnson:

Magic Johnson is one of the most well-known basketball players of all time.

Born in 1959, in Michigan, he began playing basketball at a young age and eventually went on to play professionally for the LA Lakers.

Though getting there was not easy. Johnson struggled with reading at school and often had to attend summer classes to catch up. Despite that however he found salvation in Basketball and went on to attending college pursuing a communications degree.

Due to other events in his life Magic Johnson retired from basketball and took up inspirational speaking – where he often details that basketball saved his life.

Sir Steve Redgrave:

Sir Steve Redgrave is arguably the best British rower in Olympic history.

The five time gold medallist was born in the U.K. in 1962, and was often left feeling inadequate due to his dyslexia.

However, his English teacher saw past his difficulties and spotted his evident potential as a rower.

He started Rowing in 1984 and has won Gold at five consecutive Olympic Games.

His achievements are a telling sign that sports can and often do provide an alternative route for those who struggle in academic settings.

Kenny Logan and Scott Quinell:

Kenny Logan and Scott Quinell are two of Britain’s finest rugby players. Both of whom have dyslexia.

Kenny Logan was born in 1972 in Scotland and was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child. Due to his condition he turned to sports and found solace in something he could excel in.

Logan dabbled in both football and rugby at school – however settled on rugby and went on to start his professional career at 16.

Similarly to Logan, Scott Quinell was also born in 1972 – the Welsh rugby player however suffered with dyslexia for 30 years before receiving his diagnosis.

Due to difficulties when it came to reading and writing he too turned to sports and fell in love with rugby. Again beginning his professional career at an early age.

Since retiring Quinell has become a motivational speaker who often talks about his dyslexia.

Muhammad Ali:

Arguably one of the greatest boxers of our time, the world famous Muhammad Ali suffered from dyslexia.

He was un-diagnosed until later in life and struggled at school due to being unable to read his textbooks.

However, like many other sports personalities, sports offered him something to do which he was good at – something beyond the academic realm.

Following on from his career he turned to helping others with the condition and campaigned for better help in schools for those who experienced difficulty reading/ writing.

How sports can provide a different path for those with dyslexia:

Sports can provide a great opportunity for those of us which have learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

This is due to the fact that by playing sports, pupils in both primary and secondary school can showcase talents which lie beyond academic ability.

Sports such as football, tennis, or rugby, give pupils an opportunity to compete with their peers on a level playing field.

Therefore, pupils with dyslexia are given an opportunity to excel. This allows their achievements to be celebrated – thus resulting in a boost for these pupils’ self-esteem and self-confidence, something which can suffer as a result of dyslexia.

Additionally, sport is a place where many dyslexics can excel due to their heightened creativity and ability to problem solve.  Many of those who have dyslexia have improved spatial awareness too. Thus meaning that they may also excel at tasks such as coaching/ managing a sports team.

In Summary:

Finally, it is evident that many of our favourite sporting heroes have suffered/ are still suffering from dyslexia.

This is a learning difficulty, which can cause issues within an academic environment, but it does not impact a person’s intelligence. Therefore it is essential that we provide support and opportunities for those suffering from this common difficulty.

By encouraging people suffering from this difficulty to get involved in sporting activities – you can help to change a person’s life.

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