GEORGIA Beikoff was seven years old when her running ability was identified at a talent search for athletes with a disability by supercoach Iryna Dvoskina, who trained former world champion Paralympian Heath Francis. ‘‘They found me and said I had something that if I keep doing it, I could get to the Paralympics one day,’’ Beikoff, who suffers from mild cerebral palsy, said.
A decade later and the 17-year-old has competed in her first world championships and is on the verge of Australian selection for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
But not for her running talent.
‘‘I swapped to javelin after an injury a few years ago prevented me from focusing too much on the running,’’ she said.
Last year Beikoff trained at Canberra’s Australian Institute of Sport with the national Paralympic throwing squad in preparation for her first national team appearance.
She travelled with the Australian team to Christchurch last month for the International Paralympic Committee World Athletics Championships.
Beikoff competed in the women’s cerebral palsy javelin division and broke an Oceania record throwing 24.72metres in driving rain.
‘‘I didn’t go as well as I wanted in New Zealand, the conditions were so bad,’’ she said.
‘‘But I was still pretty happy with the end result for my first time at worlds.’’
Beikoff finished seventh in a field of 13.
‘‘I wanted to throw 26 metres at the worlds and I thought I had it in the bag,’’ she said. ‘‘In training I was throwing 25 and 26 metres, but the conditions got me.’’
Beikoff has refined her technique over the past few years under Hunter coach Ken Holder.
She said her first international tour for Australia had given her lifelong friends.
‘‘I really bonded with the team over in New Zealand,’’ she said.
She was confident of a similar experience should she get to London in 2012. For that to happen she needs good results at the national championships which will be held in Melbourne in April.
‘‘I don’t know if I would say I’m super confident,’’ she said. ‘‘It’ll depend on the weather really.’’
She was born with a mild case of cerebral palsy that causes her muscles to tense up easily and exhaustion to set in during some training sessions.
‘‘My toes tense up when I run and I have no sensitivity in my arm so it’s hard to navigate where my limbs are going. It is difficult to do your best but I’ve never let my disability stop me from sport.’’
Beikoff spent her junior years playing numerous activities.
She was a Newcastle representative cricketer and played soccer for Valentine Phoenix in a junior squad.
But she had to give up her other sports in favour of athletics.
The year 12 St Philip’s Christian College, Waratah student trains up to four times a week.
‘‘The school is right behind me and really supportive,’’ she said.
‘‘They see that it’s a special thing and you don’t get many chances like this, especially at this age.
‘‘They want me to go for it.’’