Olivia Breen on a challenging and rewarding year since leaving Sky Scholarship

By Mark Ashenden

Last Updated: 09/10/2018, 22:17 GMT

Olivia  Breen
Image: Olivia Breen enjoyed four years of Sky support after London 2012

Surprise medals, new medical conditions and beating a hurricane.

Double Paralympic athlete and Commonwealth champion Olivia Breen reflects on a very lively year since leaving the Sky Scholarship programme...


It's been nearly 18 months since I was a Scholar and with the new athletes celebrating a year with Sky, I thought an update was in order!

My summer has been a bit mixed, with some really fantastic parts and challenges!

The season began brilliantly in April when I won a gold in the T38 long jump at the Commonwealth Games, followed by a bronze in the 100m a few days later.

I left Australia on top of the world and enjoyed a couple weeks relaxing before my season started properly. Sadly a couple of days into training my knee was hurting and swelled up and it was the start of tendinopathy (disease of the tendon).

I have been rehabilitating it all summer but it is still not quite right. We decided to avoid aggravating it further so I've not done any jumping all season which has been really tough. I've grown to really love long jump and I've really missed the training and competing.

I have also been experiencing tummy troubles and just before leaving for Berlin for the European Championships, I was diagnosed with colitis (inflammation of the colon). Time will tell whether this is an ongoing problem but hopefully we will be able to control. It has definitely been something of an issue all summer.

I was so determined to win a medal at the Europeans. I think it was really important for my state of mind and if I hadn't succeeded I think I would have been quite despondent going into the winter.

My parents kept reminding me I hadn't been fully training so couldn't expect to do as well as normal. I think they were anxious about how it would affect me if I didn't win a medal.

Olivia  is back at the top of the podium after a challenging two years
Image: Olivia became Commonwealth long jump champion earlier in 2018

The day of the race was really wet and cold. There is a new Hungarian athlete in my class who is very fast and even has an IAAF profile. There is also an excellent German athlete who I have a great relationship with.

I knew I could come second or fifth - nothing could be taken for granted. I was very nervous before the race but as the gun went off I just focused on the finish line. At about 85 metres I slipped into fourth but kicked again and took the bronze by three hundredths of a second, beating the new Hungarian!

I was so so excited and so relieved - it felt as though I had won gold!

I've just returned from an amazing time in America. It nearly went horribly wrong though. We were staying in Myrtle Beach in South Carolina and the weather was idyllic. But two days in we had to evacuate the hotel by midday because of Hurricane Florence.

We managed to change our flight to the day before we were scheduled to leave but were very nervous about the flight actually taking off. Miraculously we got out and the airport was closed for four days afterwards! We were so lucky!

We spent time with my boyfriend's family in Washington and New Jersey and we had a wonderful and relaxing time after the stress of the hurricane!

I can't believe it's five years since my time as a Sky Scholar started. It was an incredible four years and I am so lucky to have had the benefit of that amazing experience and all the opportunities it brought.

Despite three no-jumps, Breen had already clinched victory before producing a personal best and Games record of 4.86m in the final round.
Image: Olivia is a triple jumper and a 100m sprinter

I loved coming into Sky and meeting everybody and I really miss those days. I am also sorry that my real success as an athlete came just after my days as a Scholar! I will always be so grateful for everything the Scholarship did for me.

For now, I'm just starting my winter training in Loughborough. I always love this training and really hope we can sort out my knee so I can have a good solid block.

Next year the IPC World Championships is in Dubai but not until November. It is going to be a hard couple of years to plan out as Tokyo 2020 will be 10 months after this and we need to be careful about how we organise things.

It's all very exciting though and I am feeling very positive!