Double athletics Gold for Sharp at NSW Juniors

Layla Sharp on her way to a Gold Medal in the 800m event.  Photo supplied.

LOCAL runner Layla Sharp (Cranebrook / Emmaus Catholic College / RUNCREW) has returned home from the NSW Junior Athletics titles with two gold medals, claiming victory in both the U20 T12 400m and the U17 T38 800m.

Layla has been running as a visually impaired athlete for a number of years but has been re-classified by Athletics Australia, following a diagnosis she has mild Cerebral Palsy.

Layla ran in the T12 400m, recording a personal best time, just one second off the qualifying time for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.

She was subsequently reclassified for the 800m to the Cerebral Palsy class and followed up with another personal best, setting an Australian record and again putting herself right in contention for a berth in the Australian Paralympic squad, should she continue in the same vein of form.

Those two wins have qualified Layla for the upcoming Australian Junior Athletics Championships, which will be held in Brisbane from 13th-16th April.

Prior to that event, Layla will compete in the NSW Open Athletic Championships at Sydney Olympic Park from 3rd-5th March.

“I was extremely proud,” said mother Sam Sharp.

“On Friday, Layla competed in the Vision-impaired event, which was national classification. She could have gone to Paralympics as vision impaired but we have now found out a lot more information.

“Following visits to paediatricians, doctors and physio appointments, we have since learnt Layla has mild cerebral palsy, affected on the right side predominately. How she competed in the Vision category is amazing.

“On Saturday, Layla was reclassified by Athletics Australia and is now competing in the Cerebral Palsy classification – physical impairment. As you can see from the results, she is finally in the right category. She is now classified with Athletics Australia and competed in the 800m on Sunday under the T38 classification.

“It’s been a process, to say the least. The doctors and paediatricians are saying Layla has had Cerebral Palsy since birth but it was an underlying condition that had
been masked by her Vision impairment.

“Hence the Australian Record was broken today (Sunday), as she is officially competing as a cerebral palsy athlete.

“I am amazed at what Layla has done in Athletics, considering her disability. What’s more, she could place as a mainstream U17 athlete in the 800m.”