SALLY Brown will race in her first Paralympic final this evening after finishing third in her heat of the T46 100m in the Olympic Stadium yesterday.
The Ballykelly sprinter, competing for Great Britain, proved how tough a competitor she is at just 17 years-old as she bounced back from the disappointment of missing out in the 200m last Saturday.
That was her favourite event but she only managed fourth in her heat after suffering from a virus in the build-up but fit again, she ran superbly to finish in a time of 13.67 and qualify seventh quickest for tonight’s final.
Brown was born with a condition which prevented her left arm from developing fully, which places her in the T46 classification.
She was in the same heat as fastest qualifier Yundis Castillo of Cuba, who set a new world record of 11.95 to follow up her world-record breaking victory in the 200m.
“I’m over the moon, I don’t really think it’s sunk in yet. I was very disappointed with the 200m so I came into this race kind of needing to get into the final. I didn’t want to leave without getting into a Paralympic final,” said Brown.
“I was sick the night before the 200m which wasn’t exactly the best preparation but I did alright considering I was sick but I think that if I had a better run up and loads of sleep and things like that I would have done a lot better but I came into the 100m fit and healthy again and I was just going to give it my all.”
It’s been a tough year for Brown who has won a battle with injury to compete in London 2012.
Having only made her international debut two years ago she made her breakthrough in January 2011 snatching 200m bronze at the International Paralympic World Championships in New Zealand.
Months later she cemented her triumph with another 100m bronze, plus 200m silver at the 2011 BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester and the talented teenager who trains at the Springwell Running Club in Coleraine won two bronze medals at the recent European Championships in the Netherlands.
“My aim was really just to try and get into the finals. I had an injury all winter and some of this season so getting here was a massive achievement and now I’m into a final I’ve achieved my goal but I’m going to go in there and I want a medal. I don’t know if that’s realistic but I’m going to go in there and give it everything,” she said.
“I definitely wanted to prove myself, I mean that wasn’t me running out there in the 200m. I watched it back and I just didn’t look like myself so I had a lot to prove coming out here. I wanted to prove I was an international athlete and that I can run against the world and get into a final.”
That race comes up at 9pm tonight. Also in action today two other Northern Ireland competitors.
Also competing for Great Britain will be Greyabbey archer Sharon Vennard in the women’s team recurve.
Vennard reached the quarter-finals earlier in the week and competes with team mates Kate Murray and Leigh Walmsley. They face third seeds Korea in the first round.
For Ireland visually impaired cyclist James Brown from Portaferru and his sighted pilot Damien Shaw take part in the road time trial at Brands Hatch.