By Rob Cole
Last weekend Olivia Breen was battling with Britain’s best able-bodied long jumpers at the UK Indoor Championships in Birmingham.
On Sunday it will be Glasgow and a shoot-out with two other British World Para Athletics champions in one of the feature races at the Müller Indoor Grand Prix as the Welsh superstar continues her build up to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
The number one ranked indoor athletics meeting in the world, the Grand Prix returns to Scotland having been held in Glasgow for the first time in 2016. The 2018 edition at the Emirates Arena will feature two very special para athletics races.
Having each picked up silverware at last summer’s World Para Athletics Championships in London, sprinters Maria Lyle, Sophie Hahn and Breen will take centre stage over 60 metres in the T35/37/38 race.
Lyle (T35) defied the odds to pick up two medals in London with double bronze over 100 and 200 metres, while T38 athletes Hahn and Breen each topped the podium in the 100 and 200 and long jump respectively. Both athletes have notched personal best times over 60 metres already this winter.
Breen clocked 8.39 sec in Loughborough at an open meeting at the start of the month and also bagged a pb legal long jump distance indoors of 4.85 metres at the same meet. She reached 4.58 metres at last weekend’s able-bodied championships.
The 21-year-old Breen has been one of the rising stars of Welsh and British athletics ever since she became the second youngest Team GB Paralympian at the London 2012 Games at the age of 16. She finished fifth in the 100 metres, eighth in the 200 metres and helped the British sprint relay team pick up bronze.
That earned her a shortlisting for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year for 2012 – she also stuck bronze over 100 and 200 at the European Championships that year – and the following summer she finished fifth in both sprints at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon.
She was fourth for Wales in the long jump at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and picked up a bronze in the 100 at that year’s Europeans along with a relay silver. In 2015 and 2016 she was part of the British team that set successive world records in striking gold at the IPC World and then European Championships in the sprint relay
Two years ago she went to her second Paralympic Games in Rio, finishing seventh over 100 and 12th in the long jump. Last year she finished fourth in the 100 metres (13.33 sec) at the IPC World Championships in London and was crowned world champion in the long jump with a life-time best legal leap outdoors of 4.81 metres.