Breen is fast-tracked to Games

London 2012 Paralympic Games athlete Olivia Breen
London 2012 Paralympic Games athlete Olivia Breen
Have your say

Sprinter Olivia Breen has made an instant impression on UK Athletics bosses after earning a call-up to the Paralympic Games.

And to make the 15-year-old’s rapid rise up the rankings complete, she will be the youngest member of the Team GB squad to compete in London in September.

Breen, who has cerebral palsy, was not given a disability classification until January.

But since then, the City of Portsmouth ace has seen her reputation grow by the race – an emergence that saw Breen claim two bronze medals at the recent IPC European Championships.

Her climb to second and third respectively in the latest T38 100m and 200m world rankings also made team selectors take notice.

That made Breen an automatic pick for the prestigious Games, despite her raw talent.

An invite to this weekend’s Diamond League meeting at Crystal Palace will kick-start an intensive period of preparation, which will also see the Liphook girl travel to Portugal for 10 days.

Everything will be geared for when Breen first steps out onto the track at the Olympic Stadium on September 1 to compete in the 100m.

And while mum, Helen, anticipates seeing less and less of her daughter over the coming weeks, she’s ‘ecstatic’ the teenager has earned the right to compete on the big stage.

‘We’re all very excited about the news but I’m not quite sure it’s really registered with us yet,’ she said.

‘It’s been really busy since Livvy got word, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing.

‘We haven’t had time to really think our daughter is going to the Paralympics, it hasn’t sunk in.

‘It’s a massive achievement, though, and we’re really looking forward to seeing Livvy compete.

‘We won’t see her much in and around the Games, she’ll be that busy.

‘She goes to Portugal in August and then there’s a friends and family day set aside for August 29.

‘We’ll see her briefly after each race but will have to wait until after the Games to speak properly.

‘She hasn’t been away from us for that length of time before.

‘But there’s a great camaraderie among all the athletes, and with her being the baby of the bunch, she’ll be getting all the attention and will be okay.’

Competing in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, Breen will be keen to showcase her talent in front of a world-wide audience.

The action will come thick and fast, with the relays starting on September 4 – two days before the 200m heats.

It represents a massive challenge for someone so young, but Helen is confident her daughter will cope with the pressure.

‘Livvy will rise to the occasion,’ said Helen.

‘She likes performing and is very focused.

‘She’s got quite a pragmatic personality.

‘She’s got cerebral palsy and some learning difficulties, but I don’t think the pressure will affect her. She’ll see it as just another race.

‘Livvy should make it to the final.

‘But there is quite a lot of competition among the top four, so she’ll take it one step at a time.

‘She’s just delighted to get the experience of competing at the Paralympics and getting to the final in each race would be brilliant.

Coach Leroy Elliott said: ‘I’m obviously very proud and ecstatic for Livvy.

‘Livvy has risen to every challenge she’s faced and has surprised many people.

‘Nothing is impossible. She certainly has the potential.’