A PARALYMPIC hopeful is appealing for financial backing to help realise her dream of starring in next year’s Games in London.
Cyclist Louise Haston, 31, and her tandem riding partner Aileen McGlynn OBE have clocked near-world record times over one kilometre in practice and put in at least one training run that would have won them gold in Beijing.
The talented athlete, who only got into the saddle two years ago, is now in the mix to represent Great Britain as a pilot rider in the tandem cycling discipline for the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Louise, from South Queensferry, has previously represented Scotland in triple jump, pole vault and cross country but is setting her sights on a gold medal after being drafted into the Great Britain Paralympic set up.
She is able-bodied and rides at the front of the two-person bike acting as a “pilot” to hold the best race line in competition.
Her cycling partner Aileen, who is partially sighted, is reigning Paralympic champion in the tandem 1km time trial as well as the 3km pursuit and is certain to be a hot favourite to retain her crown.
But for Louise to hit top form before the Games she needs to devote more time to training and is seeking sponsorship to help achieve her goal.
“If I can get funding I would like to take the year off and focus on doing my best for London,” she said. “But clearly that’s easier said than done.”
The mother-of-one, who works as a customer advisor for Lloyds Banking Group, has secured around £7000 from British Cycling and the Scottish Institute for Sport but estimates she would need an additional £10,000 to be able to take a year off work and concentrate on honing her fitness.
“Although I’m grateful for the support of these organisations I still require financial backers to bridge the significant shortfall in my programme costs. There are times when I have to travel to Manchester every week to train with Aileen who is based there.
“The only time I get to train with her is when I go down there but I still have to work.
“This is the biggest opportunity I have ever had in my life.
“I have been cycling for two years and competed in the World Cup and World Championships but I don’t want to waste this chance at the Paralympics – it’s just massive and I’m determined not to blow it.”
She added: “Even if I don’t receive any funding I have got this far with none and I’m not going to give up easily.”