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UEL Road to Rio: Shot put star Vanessa Daobry to make GB debut

students studying at UEL

Wheelchair athlete gearing up for first international appearance at a Grand Prix event in Dubai

University of East London (UEL) student Vanessa Daobry has her sights set on the Rio Paralympics after being selected for her first international competition from March 17-20.

Vanessa, a wheelchair shot putter who is ranked No 1 in the UK in her event, will be making her GB debut at the International Paralympic Committee Grand Prix event in Dubai.

And, having only taken up the sport in December 2014, she is hoping her to continue her remarkable journey by earning selection for the British Paralympic team this summer.

“It would be great to do the Rio Paralympics,” she said. “I’m still a new athlete but going to Dubai is just the first part towards where I need to be on the world rankings. I’m nervous and excited but I’m pretty prepared for the weekend ahead.”

The event is key to her Paralympic hopes because, before she competes, she will have her disability formally assessed to determine which ‘classification’ she will be competing in. Vanessa, 38, has a neurological impairment which means she uses a wheelchair.

“I currently sit under F34 classification but this will be clarified before we compete,” she said. “You see a panel who ask you about your sport and how your impairment affects you within your sport as well. You then have physical testing to see how well you move, or don’t move.”

“It’s important to get that classification right as it gives me an idea of what distance I need to be throwing to get me high in the world rankings.”

Vanessa, from Tottenham, is enjoying another life-changing adventure at the moment after embarking on the UEL’s ‘New Beginnings’ course. 

The intensive 12-week access course helps people get back into education by giving them the skills to study for an undergraduate degree.

“You learn research, study and writing skills, all the aspects that need to be in place for you to be a successful student,” she said. “It’s definitely dusted a few cobwebs off the brain cells!”

“This course is going to allow me to move forward with my education, as well as being a better athlete. My hope is to get on the undergraduate course for Sport and Exercise Science at UEL, starting in the next academic year.” 

Vanessa is also hoping the work she has been putting in at the university’s SportsDock facility will lead to a big improvement on the sports field. Her shot put personal best currently stands at 6.55 metres.

She said, “UEL have helped me immensely – everything from getting access to strength and conditioning, nutrition and general support around being an athlete.

“It’s actually propelled me forward a lot faster, which is why I’ve now been selected for the Dubai competition.”

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