Sally thrilled at her silver lining after years of hurt
Northern Ireland's Sally Brown made her comeback in style last night in the World Para Athletics European Championships in Berlin, claiming a silver medl as she finished a close second behind favourite Angelina Lanza of France in the 400m.
Brown was competing for Team GB in the T47 category for athletes with a limb deficiency.
The 23-year-old recorded a huge season's best time of 64.25 seconds, which is close to her personal best and was only a second behind winner Lanza (63.26).
Brown was some 20 metres in arrears for most of the race but closed in the home straight. However Lanza fought back with 30m remaining to secure victory.
Brown, from Ballykelly, will be relieved at this result coming as it does following a nightmare six-year absence from competitive racing after performing well in the 2012 Paralympics in London.
She has suffered a series of stress fractures and the problem was only resolved after a fundamental change in her running style.
"I'm relieved that all my patience, hard work and determination through all the injuries and illnesses have paid off. The toughest thing was keeping mentally at it and starting again," she said. "That was good. I was nervous but once I got out there I thought, 'This is where I'm meant to be', and I enjoyed it.
"Six years of hard work has been worth every minute. There have been times when I thought I wasn't going to be able to go on track and do 400m but the fact I ran so well makes me thrilled.
"Over six years I kept remembering what it was like to step out at London 2012 and that kept me going. I knew I wanted to feel that atmosphere and this was one of the stepping stones.
"Just to be able to go out there and run without any injury means so much to me, not to feel any doubts or niggles isn't something I'm really used to."
Brown, whose partner is Paralympic gold medallist Jonnie Peacock, will have only a short rest before the 100m and 200m.
"I've got the 100m and the 200m left to do so I've got the hard one out of the way," added Brown, who was born with dysmelia in her lower arms which resulted in her left arm not fully developing.
"I won't be as nervous for the next two because a lot of times with the 400m I don't know how much it's going to hurt - but I don't have that with the 200m."
Jason Smyth will be going for yet another Paralympic title today in the 100m to add to his gold in the 200m.
The 31-year-old from Eglinton - the fastest Paralympian on the planet - set the current World record of 10.46secs when winning at the London Paralympics back in 2012.
He is also the current NI record holder for able bodied athletes with a time of 10.22secs which he set back in 2011 and his current form indicates that another Euro record could be on the cards today to mirror his achievement in the 200m.
He holds the current record of 10.96secs which he set in Finland in 2005. A new record is highly possible as his best time this season is 10.53secs a week ago in Newham. Best of the opposition is Mateusz Michalski of Poland, who took silver in the 200m, but his season's best of 10.87 is unlikely to trouble Smyth.
Elsewhere, there were successes for the Irish team as they secured their fourth gold medal.
Noelle Levihan took the honours in the F38 discus for athletes with mild cerebral palsy, setting two new world records, her best being 32.95m.
In the T13 visually impaired category, Raheny's Orla Comerford took bronze in the 200m in 26.76secs behind Ukraine's Leila Adzhametova, who set a European record of 24.78.
The bad news for 16-year-old Bangor schoolgirl Eve Walsh Dann is that her T36 200m race scheduled for last night has now been amalgamated into today's race which includes the highly competitive T38 category.
Also competing is newcomer David Leavy of QUB in the T38 category over 1,500m. David, who has cerebral palsy, is no stranger to Para sports as he competed in the Rio Games in football.
British Athletics works alongside UK Sport and the National Lottery to support the delivery of success at the world's most significant sporting events, principally the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They do this via the funded initiative, the World Class Programme, one part of the British Athletics pathway.