From spina bifida to representing her country: the life of an Irish paralympian 4 years ago

From spina bifida to representing her country: the life of an Irish paralympian

Irish paralympian Patrice Dockery joins us on Girls With Goals this week.

Her incredible career has spanned well over two decades and on our podcast this week Dubliner Patrice Dockery opens up about representing Ireland at six (!) Paralympic Games, and how her life has moved on since retiring and becoming a mother.

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For the full interview listen in at 19.45  below or keep reading.

Born with Spina Bifida, at ten years of age Patrice became involved with The Irish Wheelchair Association. Growing up shy, her parents decided that sport would be a great tool to build confidence and get her interacting and socialising with other children her age.

With the IWA, Patrice explained that as a junior athlete you're able to try any sport you like. From basketball to archery it was track racing that finally hooked her. Citing her love of speed, it became apparent early on that Patrice had a natural talent and her training began in earnest.

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It was 1988 when Patrice took part in her first Paralympic Games, in the podcast Patrice reveals that one of the biggest thrills came when the official selection letter arrived, she reflected on how proud she felt as a young woman of 17:

"I was nervous when the letter came through but it was amazing, you can't compete at a higher level than the Paralympics. I actually performed really well, I got fourth place in the 100metres so it was an amazing experience. I was in my Leaving Cert year so when I came home my whole year came out to welcome me, it didn't matter that I was an athlete with a disability, I was an athlete in their school who succeeded and they just celebrated it".

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Patrice also outlines the responsibility she feels as an athlete with a disability in the public eye. She commends the media coverage of the Paralympics in the past, but also believes there is room for more pundits with disabilities:

"When it comes to Paralympic year, I just feel we need to balance our media coverage better. I know that when I was young it was really important that I saw female athletes getting out of their cars, putting their chairs together, getting into that sports hall and just doing it. It's brilliant that all of these Olympic athletes did their homework but I feel we need more representation, we have a voice we don't need people to speak for us".

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In our exclusive interview, Patrice also talks about the importance of instilling sport as an ethos in her young daughter and how retirement has allowed her to return to another passion. Follow the links below to check it out in full.

Girls With Goals is available to download every Monday morning on Soundcloud and iTunes