‘Marginal gains’ is a phrase used commonly in elite sport, but Paralympian Kylie Grimes is living proof that small changes can have huge consequences.
Two years after the F51 club thrower narrowly missed out on a podium finish at the 2016 Paralympic Games, the Farnham athlete has had to come to terms with a major rule change in her discipline this year.
Halving the time the 31-year-old has to take aim from 60 seconds to just 30, the two-time Paralympic veteran has been rocked by the decision, which she feels has only added more pressure to athletes in her position.
“I’ve had a bit of an up and down season. They changed a rule, so I only have 30 seconds to throw instead of 60. I found that really hard adapting,” said Grimes, who is supporting #teamparkrun; a campaign that will see National Lottery-funded Olympic and Paralympic heroes inspire local communities across the UK to get active.
“I have to use tacky to throw because my hands don’t work that well. It made it quite tricky at the start and I really had to focus and take my time because I was trying to rush too quickly when I was doing my throws.
“It has made it quite difficult for me now. All I need now is a lot more time, practice, and a lot more competitions just so that I can really feel relaxed and settled with only having 30 seconds to throw.
“Hopefully I can try and get my distances so much further and catch the other girls.”
Despite the difficulty the Aldershot-born athlete has faced, the former British wheelchair rugby player scooped her first European Championship medal of her career in Berlin last month.
Claiming bronze after a fourth-place finish at the 2017 World Championships in London, Grimes has gradually started to reap the rewards of her years of hard work.
With the Paralympics in Tokyo just two years away, Grimes is hoping she finally accomplish her life goal of winning a Paralympic medal.
“I finished third at the European Championships in Berlin which was an amazing achievement. I really enjoyed it and I threw quite well,” she said.
“I have to make sure I don’t peak to early. I want to peak at the right time ready for major competitions.
“I want to give it everything I’ve got over the next couple of years. There’s a couple of girls that are doing really well and are pushing the boundaries even further.
“I need to push even harder to beat those top three girls in the world and throw further than anyone else.
“I am going to have to do more training, more strength sessions and work in the gym that little bit harder. I’ve got to gain those margins to get a Paralympic medal.”
To thank the public for their support through playing The National Lottery, Britain’s top athletes will volunteer as tail walkers at parkrun events across the UK from 18 August to 9 September. Everyone is welcome at #teamparkrun – be part of it! www.teamparkrun.com