Meet Olivia Breen, The double Paralympic world champion with cerebral palsy
This time of the year is particularly exciting for people from all over the world as the Olmypic Games are happening in Tokyo. Even though under a different scenario, with no public involved, they still rack up the attention of hundreds of thousands of people. Some of these people have now become more aware of Olivia Breen, who is set to compete there next month.
Who is Olivia Breen?
Olivia Breen was born on 26 July 1996 and she is a Welsh Paralympian athlete, who competes mainly in long jump events. She qualified in the 2012 Summer Paralympics and she has participated in the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth games.
As to why she chose this sport, we find out from her bio on the International Paralmypic Committee. She states that she wanted to do the same things as her twin brother.She didn’t want to view herself as disabled and different from other people. It all started with participating in a Talent show and it made her appreciate that having cerebral palsy was part of who she is.
Cerebral Palsy and Becoming a Paralympic Athlete
To anyone who watches Olivia’s stories or photos and videos from her long jump events, it might not even occur that she has a disability.
She shared her story of having mild cerebral palsy on DVL Children’s charity page: I have mild cerebral palsy (a mixture of athetoid and ataxic) which means my balance and coordination are affected and I also make involuntary movements all the time. I attended Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity when I was 3-4 years old for one afternoon a week. When I was there we would play lots of games and do lots of fun activities, all to try and help us with everyday things. When I was little my cerebral palsy was much worse and I used to fall over all the time. I found lots of things very difficult. As I have got older, my symptoms have improved and I think a lot of this improvement is down to the patience of teachers and family, my determination and sport.
Her determination, strength and ability to push forward, to train and to learn more has helped her get to where is now and she for sure has just got started.
Why did Olivia’s outfit become such a viral topic?
The news that the two-time Paralympic world champion for Britain was told that her shorts were “too short” went viral in a heartbeat, as this was deemed inappropriate by the athlete and the vast majority of the fans.
Olivia said she was left speechless when an official at the English Championships told her that her competition bottoms were too short after she competed in a long jump event. She later took to social media to explain that she had been wearing these types of shorts specifically designed for competition. And that she is hoping to wear similar ones to Tokyo next month.
The Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times and various other famous magazines took to tell the story. Another one of her peers, British athlete Amelia Sticker stated that “Female athletes shouldn’t be subjected to such criticism when there is already so much pressure on women to be “perfect”. We are there to compete. You don’t like the outfits? Don’t officiate. We don’t need officials adding unnecessary stress in those moments.”
An England Athletics spokesperson said: “We are aware of the post and will be investigating as a matter of urgency. The wellbeing of all participants in athletics is of the utmost importance and everyone should feel comfortable to compete and participate in the sport.”
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