With fans increasingly calling for more diversity on Love Island, the rumour mill went into overdrive earlier this month when para-athlete and TikTok star Milly Pickles suggested this year’s line-up could include a contestant with a physical disability for the first time as she revealed she had been approached for the show.
Although Milly turned down a place in the villa, there is disability representation on series seven in the shape of 24-year-old PE teacher Hugo Hammond who was born with clubfoot (or talipes, as it is also known).
The hereditary condition, which affects one in four of every 1,000 newborns, is where is baby is born with a foot or feet that turn inwards. Although it can usually be corrected with early treatment, this wasn’t the case for Hugo, whose dad Simon has opened up his son’s disability.
Simon said, “[Hugo]’s feet were absolutely terrible. The surgeon said they were the worst he'd ever seen. We were told the chances of him being able to play sport or run were minimal. But I like a challenge.”
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Although his parents were partly prepared for his diagnosis as his older brother Alex also has the same condition, a series of operations failed to achieve the desired outcome meaning that Hugo went under the knife 12 times before the age of seven.
The reality newbie, who is originally from Hampshire, didn’t let his disability hold him back from pursuing a career in sports though and has represented England PD in cricket, playing around the world in likes of Bangladesh and Dubai.
“Nothing phased him He was a guy who had a certain amount of limitation, but you wouldn't think it. He went head-first into many things,” Hugo’s fellow player Toby Salmon told The Cricketer.
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Meanwhile, former England captain Ian Nairn has predicted major success on Love Island for Hugo thanks to his sporting background.
Ian said, “In Love Island, he'll be a huge success because it is about him.
"In 2015, he was a really dominant and strong part of the squad and participated with everyone in that environment. I guess people change as they go through university as they get into jobs and the like. Hopefully, on the show, he can display his great qualities.
"If he comes across brilliantly, it will be the best thing that has ever happened to disability cricket. If it doesn't go brilliantly it could be quite challenging for the game."