Ballykelly track star Sally Brown might just be getting her breath back after competing in the Paralympics, but there seems to be no stopping the bubbly and down-to-earth teen who has big plans for the year ahead.
The 17-year-old Team GB sprinter, disappointed not to qualify for the 200m final, but thrilled to make the 100m final in front of 80,000 people during the summer Games, is planning to take the biggest step of her life by moving to Loughborough next year.
The popular teen says she is taking a year out from school to concentrate on her training and education across the water next year.
“I’m a bit sad not to be going back to school, and I know I will miss my friends and all the craic at school, but it’s the right thing to do,” she said, yesterday.
Not content to make just one big decision, Sally has also decided to take on the 400m, on top of the 100m and 200m.
“The whole way through my career everyone has said, ‘you’re built for it you should do it’, so I suppose it was a matter of time, really,” she said, with her sights set on the World Championships next year.
Since the London Games, Sally has been back in training, getting ready for the summer season.
“I’ve been focusing on getting my fitness back to its peak,” she explained. “It’s been a lot of slogging and long runs which I don’t really like. It’s hard to do, but it’s worth it. “
Right now, Sally says she is taking it week by week, although she is considering competing in the the Irish Indoors in January.
Helping her along in the next year, making sure she gets to training and can but all the neccessary kit and supplements, is vital ‘Podium’ funding. Sally says because she didn’t perform as well as she hoped during the Games she wasn’t sure if she would be chosen for the funding, but was relieved when the news came through.
Looking back at the London Paralympics, Sally recalled those first steps out into the Olympic Stadium.
“It took my breath away,” she said. “The noise of it all, the atmosphere; it was mad. I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is crazy!’. You just didn’t know what to expect and I don’t think I will ever experience a moment like that again,” she said.
One of the other big moments was meeting her inspiration, World and European heptathlon gold medalist Jessica Ennis.
“She was really lovely, and had time for everyone,” said Sally. “She told me to enjoy it and just do my best and train hard.”
What also helps, and to an extent overwhelmed Sally is the amount of support she has had from people, those she knows and many strangers.
“It was really nice to know all the people were behind me,” she said. “It’s been absolutely amazing. I couldn’t get over how much people supported me,” she said. “My dad was sending me pictures of people who had banners made for me. It was great and means so much to me.”
That support was re-affirmed this week when Limavady Borough Council honoured Sally with her second civic reception.
“It was lovely to see everyone there to support me, and I want to thank everyone for that.”
Proud mum and dad, Mary and Richard are bursting with pride for their daughter.
“Everything she does she does with passion and when it comes to training she’s the one standing waiting for us,” said Richard. “It never a chore for her. She never stops! We are fantastically proud of her.”