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Molly Marshall – My journey in Para Athletics

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By Molly Marshall

My name is Molly Marshall. I am a proud 14-year-old Cork girl although it is no secret that I shout for Mayo in the football. I was born with Cerebral Palsy. It means my lower limbs move differently.

I am a T35 para athlete. The T stands for Track and the 35 indicates my level of Impairment. 35 is the most impaired ambulant category.  I got my first taste of sport competition when I asked my parents could I do a triathlon. It was crazy! I won awards for being inspirational but for me all I was doing was sports the same as any other girl my age. In my opinion the award for inspiration belongs to those who saw no problem with me participating. Sports has helped me keep fit and use all my muscles. I have met children who are similar to me and we are very supportive of each other. I have met children who are different to me and it is a great opportunity to explain about disability and what para sports is. 

I got into Para Athletics after being introduced to athletics through my local sports club, Rebel Wheelers. They ran regular athletics based running games and throwing activities. At that stage I didn’t even realise I was learning athletics. From there I progressed some more through the Little Athletics programme and from athletics camps organised by Cork Sports Partnership.  All the time my confidence and ability was building.

Molly Marshall continues to progress in Para Athletics

I then joined Ballymore Cobh AC. I was told on my first session by the coaches to jump on in with all the other children. No questions asked. From there, my coaches got to know me and we worked out together what accommodations I needed to participate. I would say to any coach if you can coach a child you can coach a para athlete. We just have to figure it out together.

I have now been in the athletics scene for several years. I take part in IWA Sports Para Grand Prix competitions and in mainstream athletics events. Last year I travelled and won medals in the Para 100m at the UK National Track and Field Championships in Coventry. I have continued to progress and have set an Irish record in the 60m indoor at the Track and Field Live event. I am now looking forward to seeing where I can take my running.

This year I am hoping to join in with Paralympics training hubs and maybe continue my development.  I am hoping that people can see how much I am enjoying athletics, how competitive I am and how, most importantly, that I am just the same as any other girl on the start line. I have been lucky enough that I have had people along my pathway that saw potential rather than disability. I hope that I can show children like me that I’m just an athlete and if I can do it, why not you? Even if you don’t want to be competitive, you’ll meet new friends and feel good.

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