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Bethany Woodward admits honour of representing ParalympicsGB
She first competed in athletics at Rudolf Steiner School’s annual sports day at the age of 11. Eight years later and Bethany Woodward claimed silver and bronze medals at the Paralympics.
The 19-year-old was part of the Great Britain relay side which came home third in the women’s 4x100m T35/T38 before taking silver in the T37 200m – a race for athletes with cerebral palsy.
After taking the runners-up spot, Woodward undertook a lap of honour in front of the 80,000 strong crowd which included her former PE teacher at the Kings Langley school, Geert Alkema.
He was invited to the stadium by her Woodward’s family and he was delighted to see his former pupil battling for a medal.
“It was an incredible achievement,” said Alkema. “I am absolutely full of respect and admiration for her strength, determination and the strong will she has shown. She has worked really hard and has remained cheerful throughout. It is clear to see how much she has thoroughly enjoyed taking part in this event.”
Woodward, who has competed at the 2007 and 2009 UK School Games, made the final of 200m after finishing second in her heat earlier on Wednesday morning.
In the main event that night, she was in fourth position with 40m remaining but battled hard to cross the line in second place with a time of 29.65 seconds.
Reflecting on the race, Woodward, who spent eight years at Rudolf Steiner, said: “My gosh, that was incredible. It’s really surreal. I felt like I got everything that I could possibly do right in that race.
“My legs were sore because of doing three races in under 24 hours but I wasn’t going to let any of that affect my performance. There’s only one chance out there that we get and I was always going to give my upmost.
She continued: “The one thing that will remain in my mind forever is that my friends and family were in this building with me and they got to experience it too. I’ve just seen them and they’re all in tears.”
Woodward’s silver medal, coupled with David Devine taking bronze in the 1500m T13, raised Great Britain’s medal tally to 18 on the sixth day of the competition – one more than they had in Beijing four years ago.
Woodward believes the support of the home crowd at the Olympic Stadium has played a big role for the ParalympicsGB athletes.
She said: “Paralympic sport has never ever seen anything like this before and if the public falls in love with it just as much as we have fallen in love with it, then that will be great to have all that support.
“It is such an honour to pull on a ParalympicsGB vest. Whatever you do in that stadium, if you put that British vest on then the crowd and the country is absolutely behind you, no matter what.”
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