My name is Olivia Breen and I am a 21 year old Paralympian. I have mild cerebral palsy (a mixture of athetoid and ataxic) which means my balance and coordination are affected and I also make involuntary movements all the time. I attended Dame Vera Lynn Children's Charity when I was 3-4 years old for one afternoon a week. When I was there we would play lots of games and do lots of fun activities, all to try and help us with everyday things.
When I was little my cerebral palsy was much worse and I used to fall over all the time. I found lots of things very difficult. As I have got older, my symptoms have improved and I think a lot of this improvement is down to the patience of teachers and family, my determination and sport.
I always loved sport. I have a twin brother who was quite adventurous, and when we were growing up I always wanted to do what he was doing, which got us into a lot of trouble! He loved sport and we used to do a lot of running. I remember my first school sport's day and no-one had realised I was actually quite fast. Whilst I didn't quite run in a straight line I won a race and everyone was so happy. I loved that feeling of being good at something.
In 2012 I was classified as a T38 athlete. This is the mildest class for people with cerebral palsy and similar conditions. Everything happened very quickly after that and I was lucky enough to be selected to represent Team GB in the 100 and 200m and the 4 x 100m relay. Amazingly we won a bronze medal in the relay and we were so happy!
Since then I have also started training for the long jump and incredibly last year became T38 World Champion. I was so happy as I had a terrible Rio, only achieving 12th place, so to make such an improvement in a year was tremendous.
I have recently returned from Tenerife where I was training with my group in the sunshine. It makes such a difference training in the warmth, particularly when you have a condition like cerebral palsy. January and February are not great for anyone living in the UK but I always find my symptoms are a bit worse then so being able to get away to warmer weather makes a big difference. It's only a couple of months now until I leave for Australia where I am competing in the long lump and the 100m in the Commonwealth Games so it was great to have the opportunity to focus on training, away from the distractions at home. I am really excited about the event and really hope I can do as well there as I did at
the World Championships in London in 2017. There is some serious competition in the Commonwealth so it should be exciting.
Last weekend I was in Wales for a Commonwealth games preparation weekend and it was great to meet all the other athletes. Whilst in Wales I was awarded Welsh Female Disabled Athlete of the Year which was a huge honour and really exciting.
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