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Rio calling as teenage swimming sensation Amy Marren realises second Paralympic Games dream

PUBLISHED: 15:35 20 May 2016

Amy Marren

Amy Marren

Archant

Teenage swimmer Amy Marren said she was living her dream after she qualified to take part in this year's Paralympic Games in Rio.

Road to Rio

Heading to her second Paralympic Games, 17-year-old Amy Marren has a lot to aspire to.

Three years after her first competition aged 10, she was swimming in the Olympic pool in Stratford, against the world’s best.

One of the youngest Paralympian competitors, she came fourth in the 400m freestyle.

Previously a four-time world champion in Montreal in 2013, as well as winning two gold and five silver medals at the 2014 Euros in Holland, Amy has travelled the world to compete.

Last year, she suffered from health issues, which caused her stress and a setback in her training.

“My coach Gary Rogers has been my backbone for the past 18 months,” she said, explaining she has worked hard to get back to her best performance levels.

With Rio looming, it is still a very busy time for Amy.

The athlete will focus on her A-levels until the end of next month, while continuing rigorous training.

“I won’t be swimming all my life so I need some kind of education,” she said.

The month of August will then be reserved for intensive training in London.

Team GP will fly to Rio at the end of August before the Paralympics Games, which will take place between September 7 and 18.

Having been to Brazil before to compete, Amy said: “It easily tops my list of the best places I have ever been. People are so friendly and welcoming.

“You get on a bus and before you know people are playing percussions,” she said.

Thinking about post-Rio time, Amy cannot say what road she will take, although she would like to study geography at university.

“Each year at a time – we will see where we are then,” she said.

It was confirmed earlier this week that Amy, 17, of Hornchurch, would join Team GB for the games due to start in September.

This will be the second Paralympics for the young athlete, who competed in the London 2012 games, aged only 13.

Talking to the Recorder from Manchester, where she has been training for the past week, she said: “I am so proud of being part of the team with such great athletes

“When they told me I qualified, I cried my eyes out. It’s about fulfilling that dream now,” she said.

“I want to take the experience that I have from London – it’s a real advantage. There is never as much pressure as in home games,” she added.

A swimmer since the age of four, it was watching Ellie Simmonds winning two gold medals at the Paralympics in Beijing in 2008 aged 13 that inspired Amy to do the same.

Amy was born without her right hand, a quirk of nature which doctors have not been able to explain, but the disability has only driven her to succeed.

“If I had two hands I wouldn’t have gone as far as I have. My hand has helped me, not inhibited me.”

Like all athletes, Amy hopes for a medal but above all she is determined to give it her best.

“Medals are hard to predict. Anything can happen between now and then: illnesses, injuries, new people can come out.

“I want to give it absolutely everything that I have and come back with fantastic memories. A sun tan would be nice too,” she said.

Training 20 hours a week at Romford Town Swimming Club, where she swims up to 60km a week, coupled with three gym sessions and bike work, there is never a dull moment for the teenager.

Despite having to wake up at 5am for a first training session, the Campion School pupil is preparing for her A-level exams next month.

The eldest of two children, Amy said her motivation came from her parents and her younger sister Georgia, 14, also a swimmer.

“She has been my biggest fan since day one,” she said.

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