When she was told she had multiple sclerosis in 2004, psychiatric nurse Mary Margaret Wilson would have never imagined playing Para badminton at a World Championship.
Thirteen years later in Ulsan, Korea, the Scotswoman did just that at the age of 53, barely a year after picking up the sport in late 2016.
Adversity doesn’t hold Wilson, world No.13 in Standing Lower (SL4) women’s singles, back.
Since being diagnosed with the chronic neurological condition which affects the brain and spinal cord, Wilson has overcome some astonishing challenges.
While waging her own battle against the disease, she survived attacks that could have been fatal. She even climbed every one of the famous Munros – the 282 mountains in Scotland over 914m.
In 2008, while serving at Camp Bastion, a British Army airbase in Helmand, she was targeted by a Taliban truck driver.
“I heard this vehicle behind me. He had a dimmed light on and was driving faster and faster and tried to run me over. I managed to dive off the road,” Wilson recalled the incident to AFP.
Ten years later, she was faced with another dangerous situation in Africa.
On her way to the airport after a tournament in Uganda, she was forced off the bus at gunpoint by a policeman, who took her to a secluded spot and demanded US$1,000.
“My army training kicked in there,” said the former staff sergeant. “I was calm, didn’t scream or shout.
“I came to an agreement with him, gave him some money and managed, unbeknownst to him, to take a photo of him.
“When I returned home, I notified the authorities and he was arrested and jailed. At least he got his comeuppance.”
Wilson joined the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps in 1993 aged 29 and served in combat zones around the world. She retired in 2012.
After becoming an athlete, Wilson had been eager to fulfil her ultimate wish – competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
But that dream, she fears, could be ruined by the event’s postponement to next year following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A year is a long time trying to train hard. I feel my body is going backwards. (The disease) is affecting it,” she conceded.
Wilson refuses to slow down however, turning the Edinburgh home she shares with partner Judi and German Shepherd dog Max into a makeshift gym to stay in shape for tournaments when they do eventually resume.
After all, making Japan against the odds next year, she says, ‘will be the best thing ever’.