It’s been an injury-plagued few years for Paralympian Sally Brown, but the Londonderry sprinter insists she is now ready to get back on the Road to Rio.
With all eyes on London back in 2012, Brown ensured she didn’t miss out on the party as she competed in both the T47 100m and 200m – finishing sixth in the former.
But since then the 19-year-old’s progress has been hampered by a stress fracture in her right foot, making for a frustrating last couple of seasons.
However, her talents have still not gone unnoticed as she was one of 100 athletes selected for the SSE Next Generation programme.
The programme provides young athletes with financial help and mentoring from top names including Sir Chris Hoy, Sharon Davis and Judy Murray.
And Brown admits her inclusion has given her the boost she need as she bids to get back on track for more Paralympic success.
“Rio is the main objective. As long as I’m fully fit for Rio and running 100 per cent whatever happens between now and then I don’t really care,” said Brown, who was born with a condition that prevented her left arm developing fully.
“I’ve been injured now, on and off, for about four years.
“I’ve always missed that winter training that I need so by the time it comes to summer or the season it’s been a disaster.
“My feet are super mobile and super flexible and they just can’t take running so there’s not much we can do about it, it’s just the way my feet are. “I just have to deal with it and the only thing we can do is make them stronger.
“In July I need to get selected for World Championships held in November so selection day will be around then but you just don’t know what happens with injuries so I’m just taking it day by day.
“Making the Worlds would be important because I haven’t really been selected for anything big since London because of I’ve been plagued with injuries.”
It is the second year that Brown has been selected as an SSE Next Generation athlete and she says the chance it gives her to compete at the highest level in invaluable – even if there a few hiccups along the way.
“Last year was going really well because I moved over to Loughborough and got a new coach and I was training more professionally,” she added.
“Then I ended up getting injured this time last year and I’m still not back running.
“We don’t know how long it’s going to take to get fit but I think hopefully I’ll be able to go out on the track in April time so as long as I’m able to do 400m quick enough by July that’s the aim.”
Following her participation in the 2012 paralympics, the local athlete had already started to look forward to the Rio Games.
Speaking to the Sentinel, she said: “The experience was amazing. I enjoyed every minute of it but I didn’t do as well as I had hoped.
“I think if I had had a bit of a run up to it without getting injured I would like to think I would have got a medal.
“It’s been amazing.
“It’s been basically the same number of people have been interested in the Paralympics as the Olympics. So many people across the UK have been supportive of all the athletes.
“Everybody has been absolutely amazing and I didn’t think there would have been so much interest and so much support.
“My Dad sent me over pictures of some of the banners up in Ballykelly supporting me. It’s just been amazing.”
SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future.