Australia’s Caytlyn Sharp may only be 15-years-old but she already has big dreams for her career, including a gold medal at the 2019 International Federation for Intellectual Impairment Sport (World Intellectual Impairment Sport) Global Games in two years’ time.
Sharp has the added motivation that the Games will take place in her home country, in Brisbane from 12-20 October.
“I’m very excited. I really want to go. It’s pretty big here and I’m just excited,” Sharp said. “It’s good to have an Australian event and a world event taking place here. I think I’ll feel more comfortable and more relaxed knowing that I’ll be in Australia as well.”
Despite being a teenager, Sharp will be one of the faces to watch for the home crowds in 2019. Earlier in 2017 she got her first taste of success, winning high jump gold at the World Intellectual Impairment Sport Athletics Championships in Bangkok, Thailand.
“It was amazing. I never thought I would have the chance at winning medals so when I found out, after I jumped and the other person knocked it and I cleared it, my whole mood changed,” Sharp said. “My coach was like ‘calm down and just finish the next few jumps’ but I was just so excited.
“It was amazing, especially when I found out that I was the only one from Australia to win gold. And getting to hear the national anthem play when I was on the podium, that was amazing. I just felt proud to be an Australian.”
But Sharp’s athletics career has not always gone smoothly. Her mother Cindy recalled the first time her daughter ran the 100m, apparently crying the whole way down the straight. The next week Sharp had to be lifted into the car to go to her training session.
However everything changed when Sharp’s sister found a junior athletics programme in their home town. Then Sharp’s school introduced para-sport, including athletics, onto the curriculum and she never looked back.
“She really began to love it and excel it in and it pretty much became a lifestyle for her instead of just a sport, and it’s something she thinks about a lot and is wanting to do all the time,” Cindy said.
Sharp first tried cross-country running, achieving success nationally. She has also competed in swimming but it is the high jump she loves. As for any Paralympic dreams, Sharp said she hopes that more events can be added onto the programme. Her favourite event is currently not contested.
Longer term the teenager has already thought about what she wants to do when she has finished competing.
“Where I’m from in Victoria, para-sport isn’t really that big. What I want to be when I’ve finished athletics is to be a sport teacher to encourage anyone to do sport, mainly trying to get more para-athletes involved. The amount of my friends who just think they can’t do it is really upsetting. I know that they can because they have it in them and I started off encouraging people to go to the para-regionals this year, and the amount of kids who medalled and stuff and they enjoy it so much more. That’s what I want to see more of.
“I definitely want to do sport as long as I can. I love sport, I don’t ever want to give it up.”
The 2019 Global Games will gather more than 1,000 athletes competing in nine sports between 12-20 October. It will be the world’s biggest gathering of athletes with an intellectual impairment.
World Intellectual Impairment Sport represents more than 300,000 athletes with intellectual impairments around the world. We give elite athletes the chance to compete at an international level and on the Paralympic stage. But we cannot continue our work towards the inclusion of the people with intellectual impairments in society without your support.
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