Dunbar teenager Maria Lyle has become the latest star of British athletics by storming to European T35 100m gold on her GB & NI international debut in Swansea.
Already the world record holder, the 14-year-old won in 14.92 seconds – almost a second-and-a-half ahead of her nearest rival – at the IPC Athletics European Championships.
Coached by Eyemouth’s Henry Gray, Lyle was too young to compete at last year’s IPC World Championships but has been showing her undoubted talent for a couple of years.
Lyle, who has cerebral palsy, has been running spectacular times around the country but was only able to run in international competition from this year.
But the athlete showed great maturity against her older rivals in Swansea to add to the GB gold medal haul.
“I’m really pleased – I’ve been working really hard towards this and I’m just really glad it’s all paid off,” she said.
“I try to block out any pressure and just think about what I need to do.
“I was a bit nervous but managed to control my nerves and think about what I needed to do.”
“The crowd were really amazing. They got behind me, which made me feel confident and raring to go.
“It’s important for my parents too because we’ve been working towards this for a while. It’s a big team effort just making my dinner, taking me to training and emotional support so they have been really good.
“It’s also been great to be part of the British team – they’ve (all the athletes and support staff) all been amazing.”
Despite already being world record hold, Lyle is still determined to improve.
“I don’t think about the fact that I’m the world-record holder,” she said. “I just want to do the best I can and improve technically.
“I’ve been training hard and now it’s onto the World Championships.”
Tanni Grey-Thompson was full of praise for Lyle’s performance.
“Maria Lyle looked so young out there and seemed so nervous on the start line but once she started running she was fantastic and looked very composed,” said Thompson.
“I think at 14 it can be hard to comprehend the size of the event but I’m glad it didn’t get to her. She is very talented but needs to be carefully managed because so much can go right but also go wrong over the next few years.”