Teenage paralympian named young athlete of year

Maria Lyle celebrates after winning the 200m T35 final at the IPC European Championships in August. Picture: Getty
Maria Lyle celebrates after winning the 200m T35 final at the IPC European Championships in August. Picture: Getty
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A TEENAGE paralympian has capped off a record-breaking year by picking up a major award.

Maria Lyle has been crowned as British Athletics’ Young Paralympic Athlete of the Year – and the 14-year-old, who was given the top honour by a public vote, found out she had taken the top gong when she was still at school.

It follows an incredible 2014 for the Dunbar runner who burst onto the scene by breaking the 200 metre world record in February, before taking more than a second off the 100m record in Loughborough three months later.

She broke both world records again in Bedford on the same day – although maintains her finest hour was a double gold triumph at her first major championships in Swansea in the T35 100m and 200m.

“I am really pleased with how the season has gone,” she said. It was really good that people voted for me, it’s nice to hear that people are supporting me and great to get the recognition.

“I had no idea how it was going because I don’t have Facebook. It’s nice thinking there’s people who I haven’t even met voted for me.”

Maria was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which causes muscle weakness and can affect walking, balance and motor skills, at the age of two.

Despite the often debilitating condition, her talent shone through during a “beep” shuttle run test in PE, impressing her PE teacher mother Susan.

Since then, the youngster has accompanied her parents on their frequent runs and joined Dunbar Running Club. The former Dunbar Primary pupil, who wore splints on both her legs until she was in primary six, competed across the country with support from Scottish Disability Sport and British Athletics.

Two years ago, aged 12, she was running the 200m faster than the woman who won the Paralympic gold at London 2012 – but had to wait until she was 14 before she could ­compete internationally.

She now hopes to follow up her impressive debut with success at next season’s World Championships as well as keeping one eye on the Paralympic games in Rio 2016.

Mum Susan said the family were pleased she was getting the recognitions she deserves.

“The other people she was up against are all really good athletes so it’s great that she won. You have a certain number of people you know who will vote for her but it’s obviously beyond that. It’s good recognition of her achievements as a lot of the British public must have voted for her.”