Dunbar welcomes their very own Athletic Superstar
At our Dunbar Sporting Memories club, we have been extremely fortunate to have an inspirational world champion visit us more than once and share her journey to glory.
Maria Lyle may only be 23 but her experiences and memories resonate loudly with many of our members as her journey in sport hasn’t been straightforward. Our connection with Maria is through the wonderful ‘Iby’, also known as Ian Robertson, who runs our Dunbar group and for many years was caretaker at Dunbar Grammar School where Maria attended as a pupil.
Maria has spastic dipelgic cerebral palsy and during their time together at the school Iby and Maria got to know each other well through some of the daily challenges she faced because of her disability. However, disability didn’t stop young Maria from taking up running at the tender age of nine.
World Records smashed
In July 2012, at the age of 12, she posted a world record time of 32.37 in the 200m at the Birmingham Games however because of her age the time wasn’t accepted. However, by 2014 she was classified as a T35 athlete and started her career officially and amassing her collection of European and World medals. In June 2021, she was among the first dozen athletes chosen for the UK athletics teams at the postponed 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. At the Games she took another Paralympic bronze in the T35 100m.
During Maria’s recent visit to our Dunbar club, she spoke at length of her recent bronze medal race in the Women's 200m T35 Paris 2023 Para Athletics World Championship. Maria also explained the disability classification system and, sadly, how some athletes looked to gain an advantage by exaggerating or 'influencing' a condition for a favourable classification.
Funding is always hard
It’s not an easy life being a para-athlete but there were no complaints from Maria. Aside from the usual drug testing & classification assessments, funding is always a problem and usually dictated on whether you're winning races. Also, funding is clearly not at the same level as for able bodied athletes.
Our Dunbar group always comment how down to earth Maria is, so it is no surprise she is popular with all the members. She is very much a role model for not only other youngsters but us all to encourage us to live our best life. Dunbar Sporting Memories described Maria by stating 'she's one of gang' and spent the rest of the meeting discussing ways of helping her, including organising a fundraiser to help buy Maria a set of running spikes.