27.Sep.12 Amputee inspired by Paralympics set for Rio 2016
11-year-old Lydia Cross has hit the headlines after being tipped as Britain’s next Paralympic blade running star. She's been reported in the Sun, the Mirror and the Star proudly wearing her North Devon Athletics Club vest. She is now training to be a blade runner after being inspired by Paralympian Jonnie Peacock.
Lydia lost both legs to meningitis when she was 2 years old, just like the gold medallist who had his right leg amputated due to the illness, and is now being trained by the blade-sprinter's former coach.
England Athletics Disability Support Officer Job King saw Lydia on her blades and although Lydia hated running and had just had painful bone trimming she ran with them anyway to show Job what she could do both on the blades and in a wheelchair at her local club North Devon AC.
Mum Jodie, said: "I thought she wasn’t going very fast, but he said she was so I just took his word for it. He then introduced her to wheelchair racing because when her legs were feeling painful she didn’t have to use them but could still race in a wheelchair."
Job added, "I loaned her a racing chair to get started. Gill St Barbe started coaching her although she had not coached either an athlete running with blades or wheelchair racing before. At a follow-up session I invited Hayley Ginn who has continued to offer support to Gill who does the day-to-day coaching at the club. Lydia’s times in running and wheelchair racing have all improved considerably."
She's used both her blades and a WheelPower wheelchair to raise funds for Help for Heroes (click here to read more) - concentrating on servicemen who had lost limbs.
Lydia said: "I’m really inspired by Jonnie Peacock and Oscar Pistorius because of everything they have done. My favourite event is the 100m because I think I am quite good at that one, my training is going really well."
Lydia met her coach Hayley Ginn through Job at the North Devon Athletics Club where she runs with able-bodied people. Hayley worked with us at England Athletics before being accepted as an Apprentice Coach at UK Athletics.
Hayley coached Jonnie until last year in the build up to his gold medal in the men’s T44 100m. She is now training Lydia for stardom in Rio when she would be aged just 15.Lydia was fitted with prosthetic legs and initially gave wheelchair racing a go before deciding to use the special athletic blades.
Now, Hayley, who coaches Lydia on her running blades has told her parents that she has huge potential. "If she takes running seriously as she develops and gets stronger she’ll be very good indeed."
Jodie added, "As soon as they met they hit it off, now Hayley is like one of the family, she’s great. Lydia has just started secondary school and it couldn’t come at a better time really, with the Paralympics on it’s meant children have seen blade runners on the TV.
Hayley says she will get there, but Lydia wants to be a bit like Jessica Ennis and do lots of events. She wants to race wheelchairs as well as blades, but when she gets to 14 or 15 she will have to choose.”
And to continue that legacy, there is now another young girl interested in wheelchair racing, who was a distance runner at North Devon previously and has seen Lydia in the news.
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