A PARA sprinter is racing ahead with her training in high spirits after being selected for the second year running for an elite national training programme.

Barnard Castle School girl India Oates is again part of the British Athletics Paralympic Futures Academy, established to support athletes with the potential to win medals.

The announcement is the perfect start to the year for the 17-year-old, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy aged 15 months, but took up running in Year 3 while a pupil at Barnard Castle Preparatory School.

Last year saw India reach number two in the UK and number seven in the world in her discipline, the 100m and 200m T35 competitions, which are for athletes who are affected in all four limbs.

She also collected a host of accolades, including The Northern Echo’s Local Hero Award for Remarkable Achievement and the OCS Young Sports Person of the Year title, at a ceremony at The Oval, hosted by Olympic, World European and Commonwealth gold medallist Linford Christie.

Other highlights saw her compete for Great Britain at The World Para Juniors in Switzerland and in the UK against some of the best para athletes in the world, coming fourth after adult world and European record holders

India and her mum Sue also attended a Sports Aid parent/athlete workshop at The Velodrome, Manchester.

Workshops were hosted by Tim Lawler, CEO of SportsAid, along with Olympic swimmer and gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, her mother Kay and another with the Lunchbox Doctor, nutritionist Jenny Tschiesche. India also watched the British Cycling Team train

during the lunchtime break.

Coached by Darlington Harriers’ Helen Bowles, who attends the Futures Academy weekends and competitions with India, she is also trained in strength, conditioning and recovery by Barnard Castle School coach Andy Woodward.

The Futures Academy programme offers the country’s best young athletes an elite training plan and coaching. India will attend training camps at the National Performance Institute in Loughborough and a series of workshops and experiences designed to develop all the skills required for senior international success.

Parents are offered education and support workshops during the training camps as well as help with costs. The next camp is scheduled for March and India hopes to be selected to compete in the Overseas WPA Grand Prix in May.

She said: “I was really pleased with everything I achieved last year as I was also studying hard for my GCSEs and nursing an ankle injury.

“I’m absolutely inspired in 2020 by it being an Olympic year and can’t wait to start training with the Futures Academy.”

Her mum Sue said: “Barnard Castle School has been a massive help and so supportive both with her academic work and her training. The workshop with the Adlingtons was particularly useful giving me an insight into being a parent of an elite athlete and in how to help her cope with the pressures that brings.”

Barnard Castle School headmaster Tony Jackson said: “India is a model student and a true inspiration throughout the school. She embodies perfectly our core values by being kind and courteous, humble and hardworking, brave, compassionate and grateful. She is an absolute delight to have in the school.”