TEENAGE paracyclist Lauren Booth has been selected to compete at Sainsbury’s 2014 School Games – a major multi-sport event for elite young athletes.
Lauren, 13, lives in Pewsham, Chippenham, and will take part in opening and closing ceremonies and perform in front of a crowd of thousands at the Games, which start next Thursday in Manchester.
A number of British stars have competed at the Sainsbury’s School Games before going on to sporting success at a senior level, such as swimmer Ellie Simmonds and sprinter Jonnie Peacock, both now Paralympic gold medallists.
Lauren’s cycling career began with charity rides for the Meningitis Trust, after bacterial meningitis nearly killed her at six weeks old.She was left with permanent damage to the parts of the brain that deal with memory and speech.
The Meningitis Trust bought four-year-old Lauren a special trike to help with her balance problems. This kick-started her love of cycling and she went on to defy the doctors by learning through sheer determination to ride a normal bike, something medics said cerebral palsy and hearing loss would prevent.
She has gone from impressing competitors at Chippenham Wheelers six years ago to last year, at just 12 years old, smashing a world record that had not changed for a decade – doing the flying 200m in 15.129 seconds.
She also broke the Paracycling national record in the 500m time trial with 43.412 seconds.
Lauren, who goes to Abbeyfield School, said: “I am really happy to have been chosen for the Sainsbury’s School Games as it’s a chance to race against other paracyclists which we don’t get many opportunities to do.
“My main aim is to win a medal and I am really looking forward to the flying 200 metres as I broke the women’s C4 world record in that event last year.”
Mum Lisa-Jayne Booth said: “Cycling is Lauren’s world. Not many girls her age have posters of Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Dame Sarah Storey, to name a few, on their bedroom walls.”
John Steele, chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, which is delivering the four-day event supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England, said: “The 1,600 athletes that will travel to the 2014 School Games are set to gain a valuable insight into what competing at a major multi-sport event is really like. Importantly, they will gain some invaluable experiences that will help in their future sporting careers.”
Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Congratulations to Lauren for being selected to take part.”
Messages of support can be left for Lauren at www.2014schoolgames.com/support or #2014SSG. These will be broadcast on a giant screen on a bus visiting the Games.