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Junior doctor Sarah Leiter targets Tokyo Paralympics spot with Great Britain at the IBSA Goalball European Championships

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Great Britian goalball player Sarah Leiter at the University Sports Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell
Great Britian goalball player Sarah Leiter at the University Sports Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell

By Nicola Kenton

Sarah Leiter is using the disappointment of missing out on Rio to spur her to securing a place at the Tokyo Paralympics.

The Cambridge-based goalball player was part of the women’s team which was the official reserve at the 2016 Games and is headed to Germany to the IBSA Goalball European Championships.

Leiter is a junior doctor, as well as playing goalball for Great Britain, and the 29-year-old believes balancing her two passions helps her focus.

“I love having the opportunity to do both because I’ve wanted to become a doctor since I was 11 years old,” Leiter said.

“I could not imagine giving that up but nor could I imagine not playing goalball, so while it is a busy and tiring life, I just love it.

“I also think that the two of them balance each other quite nicely so being in a hospital can be really stressful but then going off to the gym in the evening, throwing a ball against a wall can be really good to relieve stress.

“When we go away and compete, I know my entire focus has to be on the competition and I have to switch off from whatever is going on in the hospital and vice versa.

“On a Monday morning I’m tired and achy but no matter what happened over the weekend I have to put that focus back on medicine and sometimes that little break gives you time to reflect and think about what I need to improve on.”

A place on the plane to Tokyo is up for grabs at the European Championships, Turkey and Russia have already gained their spots for next year and Great Britain must finish as the top non qualified team to do the same.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on a place in Rio, the setback gave Leiter perspective and hopes they can go one better this time.

“For Rio, we actually surprised ourselves with how well we did and the fact we got so close,” Leiter added.

“On one hand it was a surprise that we actually did better than expected, on the other hand then losing out by being the official reserve was just painful.

“I think for me personally it gave me a much better big picture view and it made me realise how much all of the little things that we do at training matter

“Actually, gaining a spot for Tokyo is not easy but it’s really worth putting in the effort and trying again.

“I think we are in a better position now than we’ve been before so we should really go for it.”

*Sainsbury’s is the longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers live well for less has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit https://www.about.sainsburys.co.uk/

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