British Kayleigh Haggo's Paralympic dream comes true. SPORT SCOTLAND

Two years ago, Kayleigh Haggo's Paralympic hopes were almost over. The World and European champion frame runner was devastated to learn that her sport would not be included in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

Her dream of competing at a Paralympic Games, which she has had since she started frame running at the age of 12, seemed to be over. However, Kayleigh didn't give up and incredibly took up boccia with the aim of making the ParalympicsGB team. 

The British athlete even gave up her job to give herself the best possible chance. From playing boccia just a handful of times in two years, she has risen to 13th in the world rankings and last month was named in the boccia team for Paris 2024. 

She said, "I knew the call was coming but I had no idea I would be selected. I was over the moon. It's always been my dream to go to a Paralympic Games, so when it was announced that frame running would not be included in Paris, I couldn't believe it." 

"Once I got over the shock I had to find something else to do. I went on the Boccia UK website and they were looking for new athletes. I filled in the form and soon joined the Scottish team. I won the Scottish Championship three months later, perhaps because the experience of competing at a high level at World and European Championships really helped me," she explained.

Kayleigh Haggo, a model of resilience and a lover of sport. SPORT SCOTLAND
Kayleigh Haggo, a model of resilience and a lover of sport. SPORT SCOTLAND

"I had the goal of Paris but I had my sights set on LA. It's crazy to think that I made it to Paris in a different sport to the one I've been best at for most of my life. As soon as I started training and competing in boccia, I knew I had a chance," continued Kayleigh, who has been supported by the Sportscotland Institute of Sport, with Sportscotland staff helping her a lot in the transition between sports. 

Performance Lifestyle Practitioner Nikki Miskelly works with Kayleigh, providing a mentoring and counselling service to help her cope with the challenges in sport and out of sport. Sportscotland Regional Physical Preparation Manager Alan Sinclair helps to ensure she is in the best possible shape, and physiotherapists Jesse Castillo and Alyssa Timoney have helped her a lot through a hip problem. 

Kayleigh's love of sport doesn't stop at being an athlete. She worked as an Active Schools Coordinator in South Ayrshire for three years before taking up a role with Scottish Disability Sport. The Briton made the difficult decision to leave that job to concentrate on boccia. 

Haggo fought like a warrior to get into the 2024 Paralympic Games. SPORT SCOTLAND
Haggo fought like a warrior to get into the 2024 Paralympic Games. SPORT SCOTLAND

"The support from sportscotland has been brilliant. I know that the people I work with, if I need anything, I can just drop them a line and they're there. When I switched to boccia, it looked like I might need an operation on my hip, but the physio I got through sportscotland and the rehab work sorted it out without an operation," added Kayleigh. 

The 25-year-old from Maybole holds world records in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m and had the frame run been included in Paris, a significant medal haul looked achievable. Kayleigh, who has cerebral palsy, admits the transition from high-intensity races that are over in seconds to mentally demanding boccia events that can last for days has been difficult. 

"The biggest difference was mental. With frame running, if I had a bad day, I could just go for a run and clear my head. Boccia is a long sport, in competitions you can be there for five or six days in a row. Adapting to that and staying mentally sharp for that length of time was a challenge. It's completely different, but I feel like I'm getting used to it now," concluded the British hero.