SUFFOLK SPORTS AWARDS: The inspirational Brendan Clifford
THIS summer, a star-struck Brendan Clifford sat in the Olympic Stadium and watched Graeme Ballard clinch silver in the T36 100m final at the Paralympics.
Weeks later, Brendan was running in the same team as his hero in a relay race at the Cerebral Palsy Championships in Nottingham.
But the event did not faze the 15-year-old, pictured right, who suffers from Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, indeed athletes such as Ballard act as an inspiration.
The King Edward IV, Bury St Edmunds, pupil will be 19 come the Brazil Games and as it stands, a trip to South America can’t be ruled out.
Football was Brendan’s first love, the teenager cutting a speedy figure on the left wing for his former teams, Sporting 87 and Rattlesden under-14s, and he remains a season ticket-holder at Ipswich Town.
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However his focus has shifted more to the track.
Brendan, who won the Triumph Over Adversity Award at the Suffolk Sports Awards, was the recipient of a similar one at the St Edmundsbury Borough Council sports awards and scooped two silvers at the East Region Athletics Championships.
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After receiving the same classification as Ballard (T 36), Brendan went on to win two silvers in the 100m and 200m respectively at the East Region Athletics Championships before being chosen to represent the Eastern region at a tournament in which he won a bronze in the 200m.
Brendan’s current best for the 100m is 17.4 seconds and 34.6 seconds for 200m.
“I have smashed my personal best at 100 metres and the current British record is 16.4 seconds so it is very important that I keep improving,” said the youngster.
“My dream is to break the world record and win gold at the Paralympics.”