Dunbar sprinter Maria Lyle has been handpicked as a future British Paralympian after being chosen to be part of the Bank of Scotland Local Heroes initiative.
The 13-year-old will receive a cash injection of £1,000 towards training and competing and is one of only 82 youngsters selected from across Scotland.
Maria attended the launch of the scheme at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow, where she rubbed shoulders with Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger and Commonwealth champion Robbie Renwick. And she reckons her recent recognition will be just the confidence boost she needs ahead of a hectic 2013 season.
“To be a Bank of Scotland Local Hero is really special and being recognised as a Local Hero, it means the world to me,” said Maria – who also received practical sessions on how to deal with the media, how to make the most of social media and career development advice at the workshop.
“I started off doing long distance and when my mum got me doing disability sport and I got classified the only events I could do was sprinting so I had to adjust. It was quite hard at first but you get used to it and I enjoy it more now than the longer distance.
“I have done a lot of CP Grand Prixs in England and if I was old enough I could have gone to the Paralympics in London last year. Based on my personal bests I would have won a gold medal in 200m and silver in 100m in the T35 class.
“It is about enjoying it because there is no point doing it if you don’t. I like doing sport and being healthy and just doing something with your life. I would love to go to the Paralympics one day.”
In partnership with SportsAid, the Bank of Scotland, as part of Lloyds Banking Group, initiative is designed to ensure more talent reaches the top of their sport.
Maria added: “ Local Heroes is a brilliant thing to be a part of, the young people who get involved are so enthusiastic so excited – are just so willing learn as well they really want to sort of hear the stories and pick up any tips or ideas that will help them in their journey into sport and the wonderful thing is I mean this time we’re in this incredible location.
“It’s very exciting with the Commonwealth Games obviously almost imminent next year.
“For young aspiring athletes to come to what will be an absolutely massive Commonwealth venue and also even now hosts amazing weekly events, it’s a great place to come you feel inspired, I feel inspired as an athlete just walking on to this kind of track.”