Bon voyage, Kelly!

16 October 2018 16:21

Representing visually impaired people from across the country, blind veteran Kelly flies into Sydney, Australia as a member of Team UK to compete in her second Invictus Games.

As Kelly set off for Sydney, she asked us to publish a word of thanks to her trainer, Mikail Huggins. He and Kelly have worked tirelessly to get her in peak condition for both her 100m and 200m sprints, and also for the new discipline of the long jump. Although these are all individual events, Kelly has learnt to take charge of the running when she and Mikail are joined together at the wrist, with him acting as her guide in the sprints.

"Training with Mikail is an absolute honour. To have an experienced Olympian sprint guide runner as my coach and guide is a dream come true and something I never thought possible. I remember watching Mikail and Libby Clegg in the London 2012 Paralympics thinking how amazing it was to run so quickly tied together (now I am doing it...and with him!!).

"As a coach, Mikail is patient and adapts his coaching around my needs, vision and brain injury. I have very poor coordination and find it hard to retain information. This can be frustrating. Repetition is key, and we go over drills repetitively in the hope it will stick. He has the patience of a saint!

"Mikail has taught me that the skills I am learning are all transferable to my everyday life. I am listening, understanding, taking on information and developing constantly. My confidence and independence has increased thanks to Mikail; he helps me to believe in myself and encourages me to reflect on my achievements. He is an inspiration in so many ways.

Kelly stands with Mikail on the outdoor track at Bath University
Kelly stands with Mikail on the outdoor track at Bath University where they have trained weekly

"Beyond that, Mikail is my friend. He is there for me through thick and thin. Despite him living in Birmingham he is at the end of the phone if I ever need a chat.

"My Invictus journey has opened up my world in so many ways but one of the most important things for me has been getting to know my true friend Mikail. I cannot thank him enough."

Blind Veterans UK supports people in many ways, and it is our honour to have provided Kelly with the means to train with Mikail and to see the hard work paying off... At a practice event in Coventry, Kelly reached her personal best achievements: joint first in the 100m sprint, third place in the 200m sprint, and a long jump PB of 3.12 metres! All achieved being the only vision impaired female at the competition. This provided Kelly with ideal preparation for her events Down Under.

Kelly and Mikail stand at the long jump board at the Godiva Classic, Coventry
Kelly and Mikail stand at the long jump board at the Godiva Classic, Coventry

Upon departure, Kelly told us: "It's all getting a bit nervy! I'm excited and prepared and can only do my best."

Highlights of the events will be shown on the BBC, with some featuring on the Red Button. The Invictus Games runs from 20th October to 27th October.

All at Blind Veterans UK will be cheering Kelly on, and eager for news of how she is doing as the week goes on.