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The E-Inspire Athlete Blog

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Hollie Arnold and Oscar Pistorius
Me and Oscar Pistorius! He's been really supportive and helpful
   
At the tender age of 13 Hollie Arnold has been nominated by UK Athletics to ParalympicsGB to represent Great Britain at the Beijing Paralympics
She has recently thrown a personal best  of 32.25m at the Dutch Open Championships in Emmerloord. A throw that has elevated her to World Class standard.
Now Hollie writes a blog exclusively for E-Inspire about her journey to a place on the Paralympic team:

 

 

I can’t quite believe that come September I will be representing Great Britain at the Beijing Paralympics!

 

Although in athletics terms I haven’t been taking part for long, these last two years have been a fantastic experience, and to be nominated by UK Athletics to the team that was announced last week was brilliant.

 

For those of you that don’t know I’m 13 years old, and although I will be 14 by the time I get to Beijing, it makes me the youngest competitor  - at least in the Athletics team at the Paralympic Games. Some say it makes me the youngest person athlete ever to compete for GB but we’re waiting to find out

 

Some people might think it is odd that a 13 year old can go and compete against adults, but in disabled athletics the events are run according to classification, and if you can compete against the best in the world then you are good enough to be there.

 

All about me

 

Let me tell you a bit about myself. My name’s Hollie Arnold (which you already know!) and I am a member of Cleethorpes AC. I like all athletics events, however my speciality is javelin.

 

I compete in both disability athletics events and against non disabled athletes. My throwing is good enough so that in the Power of 10 rankings for my age group (U15) my recent throw of 32.25m in Holland a few weeks ago puts me at thirteenth in the whole of the UK.

 

My classificiation is F46 –  with F meaning field and 46 meaning the category of disability I compete in. I am an amputee and have no right forearm. However I have a mean left arm when it comes to throwing a javelin!

 

Anyway – more on classifications later. A lot of people have made a big deal out of my age but I really do think if you are good enough to compete against the best then you should be there – regardless of age. The young diver Tom Daley gets lots of attention also – he’s slightly older than me – but it’s good to know there are other young competitors representing GB this summer.

 

At the recent competition in Holland I was up against world class athletes. It’s funny, when I first started out I got a bit nervous about who I was up against – but now I don’t mind so much and just put all I can into doing my best.

 

Hollie Arnold
Posing for photos- here I am alongside other paralympic colleagues - our images were used in Nationwide's sponsorship of the DSEs
Getting started

 

A couple of years ago my older brother Ashley took part in a Norwich Union star:track scheme in our area – and when I heard about it I was inspired to go and try everything that I could. At first I liked running, which fit in quite well as I was also a swimmer, but as I tried more events I started to enjoy the throws, and eventually I quit swimming to concentrate on athletics.

 

I think the best thing about athletics is that I’ve been able to try lots of different things so that I know now that javelin is my best and my favourite event. It might sound funny, but in a way all my coaches have helped me get to the Paralympic because they’ve made it a fun sport. Such as my first sprints coach Carol Woodcock at Cleethorpes, then there was my throws coach Trevor Jones. I owe a lot to people who have helped me on my way.

 

I’ve now got two coaches – my main coach is Shelley Holroyd – whose name you might recognise as a former Olympian and Great Britain javelin thrower. Shelley is based at the Sheffield English Institute of Sport (EIS), and I met her at  the Yorkshire and Humberside regional performance squad.

 

The other coach I see is Paul Wilson who I met at the same region’s disability performance squad around the same time.

 

Lots of help

 

I’ve been really lucky that ever since I’ve been involved in athletics there have been people ready to offer advice, give support and make sure I’ve had lots of competitions to go to.

 

My mum has been doing what any mum would – she’s been asking for sponsorship, finding out information, making contacts, so I can concentrate on just one thing – throwing as far as possible!

 

For example she went to the Grimsby Institute – a local college, and they agreed to sponsor me by way of giving me access to their gym facilities which is great. They also make sure because of my age that I’m fully looked after when I use it – so once a week I have a personal one-on-one session with a trainer. They’ve also been kind enough to give us some money – with which I’ve been able to buy kit and a couple of javelins.

 

I’ve also recently received a SportsAid grant, which is really useful – I feel proud that people see that I have got talent and that they want to support me in this way.

 

Sometimes, people’s generosity is in their time and help. For example, we met Anthony Hughes at a Disability Sport Event (DSE) in Blackpool when I was 11. Anthony works with the Federation of Disability Sport Wales, but you may have heard of him more as he is the coach to Nathan Stephens. He made sure that I was able to travel with the Welsh squad to their overseas competitions they go to, and they are really good events where I have some good competition to throw against.

 

 

Hollie Arnold
A picture of me in my gladrags - I'm looking forward to Beijing and will celebrate once I've performed to my best
Looking forward to Beijing

 

I’m really looking forward to the opening ceremony and of course competing! I won’t be totally alone over there – my mum and dad will go out to watch – my mum says she might have to rob a bank but she’ll be there! Also because of Anthony I already know Nathan Stephens and sprinter Ian Jones so I already have some mates on the team.

 

I will also know someone else who will be out there… someone you may have heard of by the name of Oscar Pistorius! I have been able to meet with him a few times at various event and he has been really supportive in following my progress and very encouraging. The last time I saw him my mum told him I had been selected for the Paralympics and he was amazed but really supportive and says he’ll make sure he keeps in touch with me at Beijing.

 

And finally… London 2012?

 

I am determined to make the most out of this year’s experience – as I may not get to compete in London 2012. They may re-categorise the F46 classification so that only arm amputees with no arm below the elbow can compete. At the moment I have a few inches below my elbow, and there are 900 athletes like me who would be unable to compete on that basis so I am going to keep my fingers crossed and hope it doesn’t happen, but whose to say I won’t be there competing in the Olympics? As long as I train hard and compete to the best of my abilities