After a below-par 2017 that saw Sabrina Fortune suffer with injuries and illness, the Wrexham-based Paralympic athlete is determined to make up for lost time by claiming silverware at this month’s European Athletics Championships in Berlin.
Fortune is no stranger to competing at the highest level in a British visit, in 2016 she claimed a bronze medal in the shot put at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
The 21-year-old, who admits to having ambitions of competing at the Tokyo Games in two years’ time, had hoped to kick on in 2017 and build on her initial success but injury and illness has seen her fledgling career stall.
Fortune admits she is now firmly back to her best, throwing a personal best this summer and after being selected as part of a 52-strong British team heading to Berlin in the F20 Shot Put – she is determined to head back to the podium.
“It means so much to me to get the opportunity to go to Germany and represent my country,” she said.
“It’s such a thrill after everything we’ve done and after last year’s downs, it has been positive to look ahead to such a big competition.
“Last year I had a lot of injuries and a lot of illnesses, it just didn’t go well. This year has picked up a lot and it’s gone so well for me comparatively.
“It’s always disappointing to experience illness and injuries but there are always going to be years in your career that you’re’ going to struggle – you just need to learn from it.
“My training has been going so well this year and I’ve hit my best performances so far – I set a new personal best as well. If I replicate that form it would be fantastic, my performances this season would have probably land me gold in 2017.
“It gives me so much confidence for this season. It’s mostly in training that I have seen the improvements and now I just need to replicate that form in competition.
“I’ve never been or competed in Berlin before, I am really looking forward to getting out there and competing – but I think it will go well.”
Fortune is refusing to make predictions as she prepares to head to Germany – but she has got her eyes firmly focused on achieving a new personal best in the shot put.
The Welsh athlete admits to suffering from nerves previously on the biggest stage – her first experience at a major championship in Doha was particularly daunting – but after experiencing life in Rio at the Paralympic Games, Berlin holds no fears for Fortune.
“I just want to get a personal best when I am competing – I am feeling so confident in myself presently,” she added.
“Every major Games that you go to you get better with learning to deal with the crowds and the cameras.
“I feel I can enjoy the experience more, when I went to my first Games in Doha I wasn’t completely happy because I was scared, and it was a new experience. It was the crowds that I found scary, so many eyes on you and your performance.
“People always say to me its baby steps – but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been thinking about Tokyo.
“It’s always the next big thing you think of. I’d obviously love to go but you do have to take baby steps first to make sure you can qualify and be selected.”
British Athletics works alongside UK Sport and the National Lottery to support the delivery of success at the world’s most significant sporting events, principally the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They do this via the funded initiative, the World Class Programme, one part of the British Athletics pathway.