Coast-to-coast for Rio 2016 athlete

Brittany Stead (16) who is visually impaired and has got into the Team GB Goal-ball team. (D525D341)
Brittany Stead (16) who is visually impaired and has got into the Team GB Goal-ball team. (D525D341)

An athlete who hopes to represent Great Britain in the Rio 2016 Paralympics has taken part in a coast-to-coast bike ride to raise money for a specialist sport.

Brittany Stead has cycled from Morecambe to Bridlington to raise money to promote goalball, a sport aimed at blind and visually impaired people.

Brittany, 18, and from Cleckheaton started playing the sport when her sight began to decline and has made her way to its top tier, representing her country on the national stage.

She said: “Goalball really transformed my life and I want to make sure it can do the same for more people in the UK.

“I really struggled to come to terms with losing my vision and it gave me something to focus on during a difficult time.”

Brittany, who is also studying to be a psychotherapist, wants to be able to share the benefit the sport gave her by raising money to set up more grassroots goalball teams in Kirklees.

The sport was established for blind and visually impaired athletes. Two opposing teams of three blindfolded players try to score goals by throwing a ball into the other team’s net.

The ball has a bell inside and is the same size as a basketball but twice as heavy. It can travel at up to 60mph.

Brittany took part in the 170 mile ride with 15 other visually impaired people riding on tandem bikes with fully-sighted people.

The group, who set off from Morecambe on Monday, were due to cycle 28 miles on the first day, 34 miles on Tuesday. 47, miles on Wednesday and final stretch of 61 miles, finishing at Bridlington, yesterday.

Brittany said competing in the sport gave her confidence and the opportunity to meet like-minded people, which was vital when she went through an incredibly difficult period in her life.

She began to lose her sight two years ago, and now has no vision in her left eye and extremely limited in her right eye.

She said: “Goalball has shown me how to persevere through a devastating period of my life which has made me the resilient person I am today.

“This is through goalball as a whole being extremely supportive, understanding, and constantly pushing me to thrive on something which has such a positive impact on my life and provides me with guidance to further develop myself as an athlete.”

Goalball is currently the only Paralympic team sport designed specifically for visually impaired people and during the past two years the number of active clubs has soared from 18 to 30 across the country.

Visit www.justgiving.com/brittanystead to contribute to Brittany’s cause.

More information on the charity she is supporting can be found at www.goalballuk.com.