Breen hoping for a double celebration at Commonwealth Games

Olivia Breen    Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Olivia Breen Picture: Ian Hargreaves
The start of the Gosport Half Marathon race as James Baker, wearing 85, hits the front early on. Picture: Neil Marshall

Baker’s perfect timing with Gosport triumph

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PARALYMPIC athlete Olivia Breen is relishing the prospect of representing Wales in her first Commonwealth Games later this month.

Breen, whose mother is Welsh, will compete in the F38 long jump.

And to top it all off, the City of Portsmouth athlete celebrates her 18th birthday on July 26 – the day before she is due to compete – and her birthday wish is to win a medal in Glasgow.

She said: ‘My birthday is the day before I compete.

‘If I get a medal in Glasgow, that would be the best birthday present ever.

Breen won’t be partying on her birthday night but rest assured there will be big celebrations were she to make the podium 24 hours later.

A Paralympic bronze medallist in the T35-38 women’s 4x100m relay at London 2012, Breen is targeting the top three once again.

‘I’m looking forward to going to my first Commonwealth Games and representing Wales,’ she said.

‘My big hope is to get a medal. It’s quite a big ask but I think I can do it.

‘I’m really excited about it. My training has been going really well and I’m feeling confident ahead of the Games.’

Breen, who has cerebral palsy, began Parlaympic athletics while still at primary school and has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the sport.

At just 15 years old, she was the youngest member of the Great Britain Paralympic athletics team for London 2012 and now still only 17, she is preparing for another major international event.

Breen said: ‘I’ve done really well at such a young age.

‘I’ve been to the London 2012 Paralympics, European and World Championships and now I’m going to the Commonwealth Games.

‘I feel really privileged to have done all that already, it’s an amazing achievement.’

She added: ‘I feel really excited and privileged to be representing Wales.

‘My mum is Welsh and I spent all my holidays in Wales.

‘My grandparents and cousins all live there so I do have a strong affinity to it.

‘The Welsh team have always been really supportive of me.’

Breen normally competes in the sprints but in Glasgow she will just be competing in the long jump.

‘There’s no sprint category for me in the Commonwealth Games so I decided to do the long jump,’ she explained.

‘I tried it in the 2012 Paralympics but decided to concentrate on the sprints.

‘It’s preparing me for Rio 2016 where I hope to do the sprints and the long jump.’

Breen will share the stage with a number of the world’s best able-bodied athletes at the Commonwealth Games but admitted she is looking forward to seeing one man more than most later this month.

She said: ‘Usain Bolt is competing, so I really hope I get to see him.

‘I only started doing the long jump in December last year so I haven’t been doing it for very long.

‘I think the 100m and long jump go really well together.

‘Obviously when you do the run-up, you have to sprint and that speed has definitely helped me.

‘I’m really enjoying it at the moment.

‘I got a massive personal best in the 100m this year when I ran 13.47 seconds in the Bedford Open and that took more than four-tenths of a second off my time from last year, which is big for the 100m.’

Though Breen seems to have taken to it like a duck to water, it is not unusual for sprinters to be good in the long jump.

‘I’ve been jumping over four metres this year but the best jumpers go to about four metres 30,’ she added.

‘Last week, I competed in the Watford Open Graded Meet and I matched my personal best with a jump of 4.08m, which I was really pleased about.

‘I go to a training camp in Portugal this week where I can concentrate my training and hopefully I can jump even further.’