Olivia Breen on becoming Commonwealth long jump champion on Gold Coast
By Mark Ashenden
Last Updated: 26/04/18 4:57pm
"Standing on the podium in front of a packed stadium with the Welsh national anthem playing was a hugely emotional experience. I'm so pleased I made Wales proud."
Two years ago Olivia Breen flew back from the Rio Paralympics after a devastating experience. Seventh in the 100m, she failed to make the long jump final and was then dropped from the relay hours before the race.
The 21-year-old former Sky Sports Scholar could have turned her back on the sport she loves, but she moved to Loughborough, got a new coach, grafted and has hauled herself back onto cloud nine.....
"It was the most amazing few weeks in Australia and I was so sad to leave.
Team Wales provided an incredible environment at the Commonwealth Games - so supportive and like a family! I feel so proud to have competed for them and to win medals - twice! I still can't quite believe it.
I am a bit sorry my success in sport has come since my days as a Sky Scholar have ended.
However, I think I demonstrate what a difference the Scholarship makes. You shouldn't be able to win gold medals over night. They are the result of really hard work.
Being a Sky Scholar enabled me to totally commit myself to athletics and become the best I could be. I am still working very hard but having the support of Sky when I was at the back of the field really helped to lead me to where I am now.
I will always be so grateful and still feel very much part of the family.
My Commonwealths journey began on the Sunshine Coast with our holding camp which was a great way to prepare for the Games.
I was very lucky the team also brought my coach Aston Moore with me. It was so good to have him there for some last-minute preparation and to have his support during competition.
My long jump event was the on the first day of the athletics. The stadium was packed and it was about 35 degrees!
The atmosphere was immense and the Aussies supported all athletes whatever the nationality and were particularly supportive of disabled events.
It was great that some para events were incorporated in with the able-bodied events and we were all members of the same team.
It's a shame that more para-events weren't included but hopefully after this success more will be included in Birmingham 2022! I was very lucky that my class had two events I could compete in.
My long jump was a T38 event but T37 athletes were also able to compete. This is a class for athletes affected by their disability down one side of their body.
My competition didn't start well and I had two no jumps. I am very glad Aston was there to keep me positive and focused.
I was delighted to hit back with my third jump that put me in gold medal position but I knew I had more to give.
Even though I knew I had won the competition, just before my last jump I really wanted to produce a big leap so was delighted to get a personal best with a Commonwealth Games record!
I don't think I have ever been so happy!
I had a few days before my next event, the 100m which was good. I spent one day with my parents who were in Australia supporting me and then got my head back into competition mode.
I still love running the short sprint, even though the long jump is my main event and I still really wanted to do well.
The stadium was packed again for the race and it was amazing to see so many people enjoying and supporting athletics!
The event was incredibly well organised and I love the Aussie approach to life - they are so positive and down to earth and they love sport!
My start for the 100m wasn't the best! I was the slowest to react to the gun but somehow I pulled it back and finished third - it was amazing!
Finding out I was the only athlete on the Welsh athletics team to win two medals was the icing on the cake!
After my 100m a few of us who had finished competing went out celebrating and the family atmosphere continued!
The next day I flew to Sydney with Mum and Dad for a few days and we had the best time celebrating and catching up with family and friends.
My favourite part was meeting up for the first time with my cousins Elizabeth and John who live in Sydney and I'm so glad to have had that opportunity.