DEVIZES judo fighter Evan Molloy’s dreams of competing in the Tokyo Paralympics were crushed this year when the games had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the 21-year-old still describes 2020 as his "most amazing year."

Evan was born with a severe visual impairment. But at the age of four, he also developed epilepsy, and his life and training have been overshadowed by convulsive seizures ever since.

Now, however, after years of struggling to deal with his epilepsy and many hospital admissions, the promising Paralympian is celebrating six months of seizure freedom. He has his eyes set on the Tokyo games next year and he couldn’t be happier.

“One hundred per cent, it is such a relief,” said the athlete from Devizes.

“My mind is at rest. At one time I would not have thought this would be possible.

"You struggle with the seizures and think that there is never going to be an end to this, but finally there is.

“It makes a massive difference , not just for me but also for my family, my team mates, my coach. They don’t have to worry about me anymore."

Evan’s seizures were finally brought under control after he was admitted to the Epilepsy Society’s Chalfont Centre in Buckinghamshire, a specialist unit for treating people with drug-resistant seizures.

Evan underwent five days videotelemetry where wires were attached to his scalp to monitor any epileptic activity in his brain. This enabled doctors to pinpoint the part of his brain where the seizures were being generated, and to prescribe medication that was suitable for his particular type of seizures.

Switching to the new drug regime was taken slowly over a period of six months, and at the same time Evan recognised that he had to make changes to his lifestyle to give himself the best chance of controlling his seizures.

Prior to being referred to the Chalfont Centre, he admits that he was in a bad place. “I was not dealing with my seizures very well and at times it would cause conflict with my coach who worried about them. I was running on empty 24/7 and not sleeping,” he says.

“I have always been able to cope with my sight problem. It’s all I’ve ever known so you just get on with it. But my epilepsy has been much tougher. You never know when you are going to have a seizure. I have had a couple when I am on the judo mat and that can affect everyone around you – my dad and coach had to catch me at one point as I fell during a seizure.”

“I began to realise that to get my seizures under control, I needed to help myself to help my condition. And it involved a lot of changes.

"As an athlete you push yourself to the limit both physically and mentally. It can be really tough.

"I needed to follow a good diet to give my body time to sleep well and recover. I needed to take my medication regularly, day and night.

“After going to the Chalfont Centre, amazing things started to happen. I made changes to my lifestyle that meant my life started to work for me.”

Now Evan is looking forward to Tokyo next year and, as a member of the Paralympic GB Judo set up, he is training hard to keep in peak condition ahead of the games.

“In my life I have achieved so many personal goals and broken so many barriers.

"Now I just want to get to the Paralympics and get on that podium. That's what I’m aiming for.

"I'm lucky I've found something that I love doing. I have extreme passion for judo, and that drive keeps me ticking.”

At the same time Evan has raised more than £1,000 for the Epilepsy Society by running 100 miles on top of his training during September..

Nicola Swanborough, Acting Head of External Affairs at the charity, said: “Evan is a real inspiration. He has refused to be beaten by his epilepsy and has harnessed the fighting spirit he shows in competitions, to also get his epilepsy under control.

“Getting his medication right has been a big part of that journey and we are pleased that our world-leading epileptologists at the Chalfont Centre have been able to make a difference to Evan’s life.

“We will be excited to follow his progress in Tokyo next year and are thrilled that Evan has chosen to fundraise for us.”