While the Paralympic Games were undoubtedly an inspiration to anybody that watched, for one Dales youngster they were truly life changing.
Cathy Booth, 21, of Matlock Bath, was told all the way through life that she could not do sports. This is because she has Cerebral Palsy – meaning she cannot run – as well as epilepsy and a sight defect.
But the Paralympic Games were to change Cathy’s outlook on life forever.
“I saw athletes with far worse disabilities than I have, competing on an international stage without any fear of what they look like or anything else,” said Cathy. “I just thought to myself: ‘I could do that too’.”
Inspired, Cathy began searching the internet for a way to get into athletics and found CP Sport – an organisation that provides sport and recreation opportunities for people with a disability.
Cathy went along to one of CP Sport’s taster days and discovered that, far from not being able to do sport, she had a real flare for throwing javelin and discus.
Following on from that Cathy began training hard, rubbing shoulders with more established athletes and entering competitions around the country.
On the first weekend of June Cathy entered the National Disabled Athletics championships in Dublin with CP Sport and achieved two personal bests – in javelin and discus – and took home two silver medals.
This puts Cathy as the second best athlete, in her sports and classification, in the UK.
“My aim now is to compete in the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016,” said Cathy. “And if I keep up with my training and physio therapy, I will definitely be there.”
Cathy is not stopping there, though. The confidence she has gained from achieving the unachievable has made her realise that anything is possible.
“I never thought I would go to university but since all this I’ve decided to study business at Leeds Met,” said Cathy.
The new educational challenge will not hinder Cathy’s rigorous training regime, though, as she will be firmly under the wing of Commonwealth silver medalist Mick Hill, head of sports at the university.
She will be in student accommodation right next to the training facilities and aims to hit the books just as hard as she will hit the gym.
“Mick has confidence in my ability and wants to help me achieve my dream of getting to Rio Games,” said Kathy.
Cathy’s mum, Anne Booth, said: “I am so proud of her. She has worked really hard and the sport has opened up a world of possibility for her.”
Here at the Matlock Mercury we are extremely proud of anybody that overcomes the odds and achieves something great. But to think that somebody from the Dales could be competing in the next Paralympic Games is truly amazing.