As the British record holder and the best para long jumper this country has ever had, it would make sense to select me” – Ryan Raghoo, Team GB Paralympic hopeful for Rio2016
I was born under very difficult conditions, and due to a number of errors from the medical team delivering me, I was left with permanent brain damage and a condition called Cerebral Palsy.
I spent a lot of time in a wheelchair and I hated sport at school, being excluded because it was considered too dangerous for me.
In 2014 I started off as a 100m sprinter and after my classification was changed it seemed like my dreams of going to the Paralympics were over.
Luckily I have found a new event in the long jump and am now world class in this new event. I have so much more to learn and this really only is the beginning.
I started training for the long jump properly in January 2016 so to have qualified for the biggest event in sport after only a few months of training is also historic.
If I go to Rio, whatever happens, I will make history as the first person ever to represent team GB in my event which will be pretty special.
For myself and the coaching team this will be a huge step as part of the much bigger plan – Rio is a beautiful city and it is always a great honour to represent my country and also to represent myself.
This is the biggest event in sport and a chance to showcase my talent, for me, it is not about winning medals it’s about what can be achieved from that platform. If I go to Rio, I’ll change the sport forever and I’ll change things for many people with disabilities.
The best part about competing in the long jump is that it’s given me an opportunity to achieve my dreams and can help me to break down many different barriers through sport.
I always want to tell aspiring young athletes never let anyone tell them that their dreams are too big.
Set a goal, then work out what you need to do to achieve that goal – the journey will be hard and there will be times when you want to give up, but if you are disciplined and you trust and stick to the process you may just achieve greatness.
Qualification is out of my hands.
The international governing body set out their basic and automatic qualifying standards which athletes must achieve to compete at the Paralympics – I have the automatic standard.
The National Governing Body (British Athletics) then sets out their own qualifying standard which athletes must achieve in order to be considered for selection – I have jumped this standard twice now.
However, selection is based on world rankings, medal potential and a host of other things – to be automatically selected I would need to be placed in the top 3 in the world.
What I would say is it’s very complicated and selection for the Para Games is much tougher than selection for the Olympics.
By all rights as the British record holder, the best the country has ever had and this being the first time someone in my class has ever qualified in my event for team GB then it would make sense to select me for the growth and development of para long jumping in this country and on the international stage.
Selection is not something I worry about too much – all I can do is keep training and keep improving.
To find out more about Ryan, please click HERE