Jersey athlete, Grace Greenwood, speaks to Blue Islands about competing for Team CP England and her goals for 2019 and beyond 

Grace Greenwood (14) was awarded a £500 Blue Islands voucher at the Jersey Sports Council awards this year. Grace has had an impressive year, travelling off-Island and competing in CP (cerebral palsy) Athletics championships at a national level. Blue Islands is delighted Grace will be using some of the voucher to travel to a high-profile athletics competition in Newham next year.  We spoke to Grace about her journey so far and what lies ahead.

You've had a busy and impressive year, was has been your highlight of 2018?

Very busy year, I ran 60m at the National Indoor Age Group Championships in February and finished on the 1st September with the Cerebral Palsy National Finals and lots in between. Without doubt the highlight was to be part of the England Team for the CP World Championships in Barcelona. As a seniors competition I was taken really for an early experience of international competition so to come away with a bronze medal in both the 100m and 200m was beyond my dreams.

What is it like to compete for Team CP England at such a young age?

This was the first time I’d been part of a representative team and I found that whole experience really positive. Athletics can be a bit of a lonely sport so to have that feeling of being in a team was something I really enjoyed. I was one of the youngest competitors at just 13 but the other members of the England sprint squad were also young, I think the average age was only 17 and everybody was very supportive towards me.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into the sport?

I’d simply say to try many different sports, I came into athletics after trying horse riding, karate and even adapted football. All of those were very enjoyable but athletics just seemed to be the right fit for me. Even now I still enjoy lots of other activities, so I’d say don’t be afraid to try new things, just give it a go you may be surprised.

Next year, you will be traveling to Newham to compete, could you tell us a little bit about how you will prepare for that? 

Newham is a high-profile competition as its part of Parallel Success series which presents para athletics alongside main stream athletics, there is always a strong representation of Olympic and Paralympic athletes attending. The benefit for me is its location right next to London City Airport where Blue Island fly into so it’s a really convenient to travel from Jersey. I will now have a month’s complete rest before starting my winter training programme and then once into 2019 it will be a couple of indoors and a build back up to that 2019 summer season. 

What are your goals for 2019 and beyond?

I have a fantastic coach at Jersey Spartans, Karen La Mottee, and she is mindful of my age and the pressure that setting goals can bring so we tend to just relax and see what happens, though, every time I run, because of the type of person I am, I always want a new personal best time! 2019 is the year of the Junior Paralympics in Switzerland, so to be selected as part of a representative squad to compete there would be very exciting but I’m realistic that at 14 I would still be young and there are plenty other strong female para athletes who will be also looking to go. Just a good season, more PB’s and injury free will be fine for now! Beyond 2019 by focus is on the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and then after that the big goal is of course the Paralympics Paris 2024.

Blue Islands look forward to following Grace’s journey and travels off Island to compete. When we asked Grace’s father about her impressive year, he added;

Grace made the step up to represent Team CP England this summer so travelling to competitions off Island has been so important in terms of gaining experience and achieving improved PB times in her track events 100 and 200m. The £500 travel bursary has been a real bonus, without it she would most likely not have been able to travel to Gloucester where Grace did achieve new PB's in both events.