JO BUTTERFIELD wiggles her thumbs. A mundane task for most. Mind over matter for her. Pink hair, broad smile, the adopted Glaswegian shrugs her disability off as if it were a persistent cold, the enticing opportunities that lie ahead carved out from the moments when she might have foreseen only despair. Bound for the IPC world athletics championships in Doha this week, the 36-year-old will rock up in her wheelchair and throw for gold. It is a burden, among her myriad challenges, she will carry lightly.

It was prior to Christmas 2010 that Butterfield – then a personnel officer with the Army – felt the irritation of pins and needles in her feet. A scan at Glasgow’s Southern General was seen as mere due diligence. She set off for her car afterwards to visit friends and family in Yorkshire with no pressing concern. ‘We don’t expect to see you again,’ the doctors told her by way of reassurance. On closer inspection, they noticed a mass on her spine, a tumour that required urgent removal.

“It was like a large grape,” she recounts. “But where it was, there’s not a lot of space. And they reckoned it had been there for years, growing slowly. Which is why the body had just adapted to it. The signals were that it was a matter-of-fact surgery, you’ll be ok. There’s just a 0.01 per cent chance I’d end up paralysed, he’d seen much bigger tumours and it wasn’t a problem. It obviously wasn’t the case.”

She woke up unable to walk, and with much of her upper body sapped of its powers. “My biceps are pretty good though,” she grins proudly. They have been of utmost use. Her initial rehabilitation complete, she was convinced to join the newly-formed Caledonian Crushers, a wheelchair rugby team in the city. Enthusiasm kindled, Butterfield ventured to an open day in Loughborough from which Paralympic prospects were to be uncovered.

A friend in accompaniment picked up a discus from the box of toys. Unskilled and unwitting, she launched it into the air. “Suddenly a few people were looking over at me. I carried on oblivious before someone came over and told me it was pretty impressive for a first go. It was measured about six metres. They told me that would have probably got a medal at London 2012. I didn’t really take that seriously but I did think: ‘maybe there’s something here I should look at.’”

In Doha, she will hurl it once more, as well as competing in the specialist club throw. In the former, she has attained a world record, in the latter the European mark, accompanying the European title corralled in Swansea last year on her championship debut.

Her foes are mainly American. “But I beat Rachel (Morrison), who’s the world record holder, at the Anniversary Games so that was a confidence booster. So we will see what happens.”

All in Doha will have Rio on their minds. The Paralympic Games beckon. It might need one more record to initially land a global gold, she affirms. “I don’t follow the others too closely but I know I’m throwing better in the club than I ever have done before. But I think I could get it. I think it’s going to be high 20s to win and over 20 to get a medal.” A feat, you can bet, worth a thumbs up.