Support through Sport UK chats to Cathy Booth, aspiring Paralympian ...
Hi Cathy. You were just named Derbyshire Dales Disabled Sportsperson of the Year. Congratulations! So tell us ... where, and how, did your sporting journey begin?
My journey began after I watched the 2012 Paralympics and I thought ‘I want to do that’. I Googled disability sport and it came up with a fantastic charity called Cerebral Palsy Sport. Cerebral Palsy Sport is a charity that encourages people of all ages with Cerebral Palsy to get involved in sport. I went along to one of their training days in November 2012 and had a go at throwing and instantly loved it. We always knew I was a strong thrower - but I was never allowed to participate in sport at school because of health and safety reasons. I then got referred to Chesterfield and District Athletics Club, where I began training twice a week. A few months in, I got UKA Classified (per(F37/T37)) which means my personal bests now go on an athletics database and it enables me to be seen by UKA and eventually get picked to represent Britain. After a year of VERY hard grafting, I am now F37 England Athletics Javelin Champion, and Disabled Sportsperson of the Year for my county. My inspiration was, and still is, Jessica Ennis - and I was fortunate enough to meet her at a talent ID day at Sheffield EIS. She is such a lovely person who got where she did through hard work. She inspired me to take up sport and to never give up on your dream until you get it!!
You won two silvers at your first National Disabled Athletics Championships. Medalling at your first National Games must have given you a real confidence boost and must mean that you're now setting your sights on the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio ... ?
That was an absolutely fantastic experience and it felt amazing to receive medals at my first National Championships. It gave me a massive confidence boost! Yes - I hope to get to Rio - however Rio's three years away and so at the moment I'm concentrating on achieving the qualification standard for the European Championships in Swansea next year.
What support would you need to get to Rio? If anyone reading this article wants to help you on your way, what should they do?
The support I need is sponsorship - and to be able to make people aware of my Paralympic potential! The more competitions I can do, and the more physiotherapy I can have to focus on my weaker muscles, the more chance I have of securing that all important distance! So somebody PLEASE SPONSOR ME!
Are we right in thinking that you also recently started studying at the University of Leeds Met and that a certain Mick Hill is Head of Sport there ... ?
Yes, I am currently studying Business Studies at Leeds Met, and yes he is! He is also my coach when I am up here and it has been fantastic to be able to be coached by someone who really knows their stuff! I am hoping that, with his coaching, I will be able to go far in my career as an athlete. I have added a metre onto my PB already and I have only been coached by him for six weeks - so with the help here, and the track only 500 yards from where I am living, I am hoping that one day I will be able to stand on a Paralympic podium and be safe in the knowledge that I have achieved the best that I can.
If any disabled people are reading this and are thinking that they might like to get into sport, what would your message be?
I would say GO FOR IT! There is absolutely no reason why disabled people can’t get into sport and I think last year’s Paralympics has really proved that. Anything that takes your fancy, give it a go - who knows, you could become the next Paralympic hopeful! Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams, because that is absolute rubbish! If you believe in yourself, which it took me a very long time to do until I got into sport, you can, and will, make it happen.
Wise words indeed, Cathy. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us and, any potential sponsors reading this, please get in touch!