When Team GB’s 17-year old sprinter Sally Brown makes her Paralympic debut in London today she will have a strong contingent of family from Ballykelly “yelling” and cheering her on from the stands.
Among them will be her proud parents, Richard and Mary, and little sister, Marcie. They arrived in London on Monday and can’t wait until her first race in the 200m this afternoon.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ yesterday, dad Richard told of the sense of excitement at the Games.
“We drove past the stadium on the way to my sister’s and Mary and I felt a real mixed bag of emotions. Excitement, butterflies and nerves,” he said.
“To think our wee Sally will step out into that stadium in front of 80,000 people is a daunting prospect.
“As parents you spend all your life nurturing and caring for your kids, but to see your daughter stepping out there on her own and not be able to protect her or help her will be so hard.”
The family met with Sally on Wednesday, and they said she appeared “relaxed” and “in good spirits”.
“I believe we are probably more nervous than she is,” he said. “In the evening we met up with her again along with Philip Tweedie her coach at Paralympic GB house with some of the other athletes to watch the opening ceremony.
“The athletes who are competing early on Friday couldn’t go to ceremony as it involves a lot of standing around outside, but there was a great buzz and real party atmosphere,” he said. “There is not much you can say to an athlete who competes at this level and who has worked so hard to get to this moment in her life. Her GB coach always says ‘go and do what you do’, and I always like that because it is simple and to the point.”
He added: “Sally has been training with a podium finish in mind and I believe she has the deep desire and drive to achieve this, but she in a tough classification and it all can be decided on who copes with the pressure on the day.”