PARALYMPIC athlete Olivia Breen is hoping to end the season with a bang when she competes at the IPC European Championships today.
The competition in Swansea marks the season finale for the City of Portsmouth athlete – and it’s been a memorable campaign already.
Breen came fourth in the long jump at the Commonwealth Games and learnt valuable lessons from her experience.
She said: ‘I learnt a lot from it, especially as it was my first major championships competing in the long jump.
‘It was quite frustrating because I was jumping behind the board quite a lot and maybe I was a bit too relaxed.
‘It’s made me a lot more focused for competitions.
‘Technically, it’s made me better. I’m really happy that I had the Commonwealth Games before the Europeans.’
Breen competes in the long jump today, with the 100m final taking place tomorrow at 5pm.
The 18-year-old rounds it all off in the final event of the competition – the 4x100m relay on Saturday evening.
At the 2012 IPC Athletics European Championships in Stadskanaal, Holland, Breen won two bronze medals in the T38 100m and 200m but is looking to better that this time round.
‘Hopefully, I can get a medal in the long jump and I definitely want a medal in the 100m,’ she said.
However, the City ace admits her best chance of a medal is in the relay.
The team have been practicing hard in the run-up to the event, making sure they can get it right on the big day.
‘I’ll be passing the baton to Bethany Woodward on the second leg, who I passed to when we won bronze at London 2012,’ said Breen.
‘I’m confident we will get a medal if we get the baton round.’
Suffering from cerebral palsy, which can affect movement, senses and speech, Breen explained the unique difficulties faced by herself and her team-mates when passing the baton round and ensuring it goes to the stronger side of the body.
‘Everyone has a good side and a bad side and it’s quite difficult knowing which hand to pass to,’ she said.
‘We have to make it work.’
The Portsmouth-based athlete is raring to go in the season finale and cannot wait for a well-earned rest.
‘It’s been hard to keep focused,’ added Breen. ‘I had the Commonwealths and then had to re-focus straightaway for the Europeans.
‘Training’s been going really well and I feel ready and prepared, I think I can do well.’
She added: ‘I’m looking forward to a break afterwards, it’s been a long season.
‘It’s been quite a busy year for me. It’s been quite tiring and lots of travelling but luckily I haven’t had to go abroad much as all my competitions have been in the UK.
‘I couldn’t be more happy with my season. I’ve done everything I wanted to do.
‘I took four tenths off my PB in the 100m this year, which is phenomenal.
‘I just want to perform well at the Europeans and hope all the hard work pays off.
‘I couldn’t be more grateful to my coaches for their support.’
Jonas Dodoo coaches Breen for the 100m, while her long jump coach is Julie Hollman.
There are no major championships until November next year, so Breen will not compete for the next 12 months at least.
That leaves plenty of time to prepare for the World Championships in Doha.