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Abigail on Track for Dream

Abigail Birch

During the Easter Holidays I was invited to London to The Allianz Park to apply for Para-athletics Classification. The Indoor training track was used in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games as the warm up track. After the Paralympics had finished the track was moved and relayed at Allianz Park.

Para-athletic classification is the basis for determining who can compete in specific athletic sports and within which class. It is used for the purpose of establishing fair competition. They have six categories set out by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), but not every sport allows for every disability, sadly.

The six categories are Visually Impaired (T/F 11-13) Intellectual Disability (T/F 20) Cerebral Palsy (T/F 31-38), Amputee & Les autres (short stature) (T/F 40-47) Wheelchair Track (T 51-58) and Wheelchair seated throwers (F51-58). (T= Track event and F = Field events.)

I was Classified as a T/F 41 with a fixed 3-year review. This is because I am under 18 and officially haven’t reached my full predicted adult height. There is a chance that in 3 years I may no longer be eligible to have my classification, this is because although I will still have dwarfism I could be above the maximum height of 137cm set out by the IPC.

So what does this all mean? Well it now means that I can officially compete in a fair competition and against those like me, plus by competing I can then become ranked both nationally and internationally.

At the end of April, I’m off to compete again at the National Dwarf Games in Birmingham, this is where I will also find out if my times and training are good enough to be selected for the World Dwarf Games GB Team. The World Dwarf Games are held every four years and always the year after the Olympics and Paralympics are held. The next World Dwarf Games will be held next year, 2017, in Gulph, Cananda. However, if I am selected I will need to raise about £4,000 to take up my place as there are not any subsidised places available. My family are trying to plan fund raising events to help raise the amount needed and I have also set up a page at www.gofundme.com/AbigailBirch should anyone wish to make a donation.

I hope that I can achieve my dream to make the GB Team, to show that no matter what colour, race or disability with encouragement, determination and the right mind set anyone can achieve.