Sally aims to bolt home at Paralympics
Sally Brown is just 17 but already she has emulated Paralympic stars like Oscar Pistorius and our own Jason Smyth by racing against non-disability athletes.
Pistorius competed for South Africa at the London Olympics, while Smyth missed out on a place at the Games — where he would have been competing against the likes of Usain Bolt — by just four one hundredths of a second.
And although just turned 17, Sally has already represented Ulster in All-Ireland competition.
The Ballykelly runner will be competing in the London Paralympics, which start next Wednesday, and — like Smyth — is tipped to go close in the 100m and 200m.
Sally has been working hard ahead of the Games at the Team GB training camp in sunny Portugal.
“Competing in the 100 and 200 will certainly keep me busy at the Paralympics,” said Sally, a Samsung Hope Relay ambassador, a venture which raised money for charity in tandem with the Olympic Torch Relay.
“So it will be pretty full on but it will be really good at the same time and I can’t wait to give it a go,” said Sally who trains at Springwell Running Club in Coleraine.
“I’m a bit nervous but also very excited about it all.
“The 200 is my best event — I’m not really a 100 runner but I’ve been lucky enough to do well at it.
“I’m more of a bend runner and need longer to get my speed up.
“When I get a bit older I’ll probably stop the 100 and concentrate on the 200 and 400,” said Sally, who contemplated running the 400 in London as well as the two sprints.
“I’ve only just started running the 400 in the last few weeks,” she said.
“It’s such a different race than the 100 and 200. It’s more tactical and you have to think more about it.
“But I’m learning how to run it and it’s something for the future,” said Sally, born with a condition which meant her left arm didn't fully develop.
Sally has noticed Paralympic fever growing in recent days.
“Ever since the Torch Relay you could feel the buzz getting stronger and stronger,” she said.
“Everybody is just waiting for it all to get started now.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get to the Olympic events because of the training camp.
“I will not be in London until three days before I compete.
“It means I will be away from everything before I am due to compete.”
She added: “Everything is a bit hectic at the moment but I’m really enjoying it.”
Sally won two bronze medals at the IPC European Championships in the Netherlands in June, an achievement all the more remarkable as she was returning from a double stress fracture which kept her out of action for several months.
Before that stunning double, Sally won a silver and two bronze medals at the Paralympic World Cup.
Sally and Jason Smyth will be joined at the London Paralympics by six other Northern Ireland competitors.
And all have high hopes of emulating Richard and Peter Chambers, Alan Campbell, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan in bringing medals home from London. Good luck to them.