Molly Hopkin heads to Glasgow in April for Paralympic trials for the 2016 games in Rio. UK successes at the Olympics and Paralympics have inspired the next generation of athletes to come forward and train harder than ever. One such motivated individual is Ffynone House School’s Molly Hopkin. Talented Molly recently represented Wales at the Hague Grand Prix, an international event for swimmers with physical, visual or intellectual impairments.
Molly’s journey began in 2012. Aged eight years old, she visited Margam Park in South Wales with her parents to await the arrival of the Olympic torch. Molly stood on her ‘running legs’ as the torch and its entourage approached. A tour official spotted her and said “you could be a Paralympian one day”.
“That day changed everything and I thought to myself, yes that is something I’d really like to do. Since then I haven’t looked back. Shortly after that encounter with the Olympic official, I was contacted by Bev Tucker, who helps local disabled children connect with sport and the opportunities it provides,” said Molly.
Molly was born with a disability that affected how her legs developed. At just eight months old, both of her legs were amputated below the knee. Following this life changing operation, Molly had to learn how to walk without her legs, and much later, with her new legs.
“Swimming wasn’t my first love” explains Molly. After working with Bev, I took an interest in athletics but due to blistering I looked at the swimming option, despite only recently learning to swim! I attended the Wales National Swimming Pool in Swansea, a former training venue of Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds, which fuelled my ambition further.”
Molly was spotted by Huw Griffiths, Disability Sport Wales’ Head Swimming Coach, who encouraged Molly’s parents to enrol her into a swimming club. Molly then joined Nexus Swimming Club in Glyn-Neath before moving to Neath Swimming Club two years later, where she is still coached today. In February 2016, Molly was selected for the Welsh team to compete at the Hague Grand Prix in Holland, an event that saw her record a personal best in the 100 metres freestyle of 1 minute and 16 seconds.
“It was a brilliant feeling to record a personal best. When I touched the wall I looked up slowly and nervously at the scoreboard. I saw that I’d broken my record and punched the water with delight. I looked up at my mum who signalled – YES! I was so proud and so happy. Afterwards my coach Huw Griffiths gave me the biggest high five!” said Molly.
Molly has ambitions to compete in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia and the 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan. We wish her every success in Glasgow next month.
“Molly is inspirational. Her personal achievements to date are exceptional and it’s marvellous for her, for her country, and of course her home city of Swansea. Everyone here at Ffynone House admires and supports her progress with pride.” concluded Headmaster, Mr Michael Boulding.