While most 16-year-olds spent the summer nervously awaiting the results of their national five exams, Maria Lyle was taking on a slightly bigger challenge.
The Dunbar Grammar School pupil discovered she had passed her nationals with all As and Bs just weeks before achieving an even more amazing feat, a three-medal haul at the Paralympic games.
Maria, who suffers from diplegic cerebral palsy, bagged a silver in the women’s T35-T38 4x100m relay alongside Kadeena Cox, Sophie Hahn and Georgina Hermitage and added two bronzes in the T35 100m and 200m at the weekend.
She will receive a hero’s welcome when she arrives back in Dunbar on Tuesday night, thanks to neighbour and donor Andrea Kelly, who contributed over £1000 towards her training from the David Armstrong memorial fund she set up after her son died in a car crash.
Maria will be piped in towards Hallhill Sports Centre at around 6.30pm, before the Paralympian shows off her shiny new medals.
Andrea said it was the least she could do for an athlete who has brought pride to the town.
“I think like everybody here I watched her success and was just inspired by not only what she achieved but the way she handled herself,” she said.
“She told me before going out there that she would be running for David – that meant a lot to me and the entire town is just so proud of her accomplishments.”
The sprint ace’s mum, Susan, said Maria’s medal-winning performance was made even sweeter after a chaotic build-up to the games.
“She split with her coach about six weeks ago, he was based in Liverpool and it made coaching very difficult,” she said.
“I ended up overseeing a lot of Maria’s training myself and I knew her times so I always thought there was a chance she could do something.
“But you just don’t know, you have to take into account she’s 16, she’s in a huge stadium with some of the best athletes in her category, but she was so focussed, it was absolutely fantastic.”
Her success on the track and in the classroom appears to have paid off, with Maria set to move to St Albans’ Oaklands College next week where she’ll join its athletics programme while studying for a BTEC in Sport and Exercise Science.
And as friends and neighbours cheered her on back in East Lothian, the popular teenager was busy making fans in Rio as well.
“I was in the stadium until well after the race had finished and there were all these Brazilian fans in the crowd who were taking selfies with her,” Susan said.
“I think it’s fantastic for her confidence, she clearly made an impact on them and I think they recognise that she has the potential to be a future star.”
Meanwhile, wheelchair tennis star Ruairi Logan will be talking to pupils at St Mary’s Primary School in Leith at 2pm this afternoon.