CALDICOT’S Kirsty Taylor believes brushing shoulders with Christian Malcolm early on in her para athletics career fuelled her own ambitions of reaching the top of the sport.

Born with talipes, the T44 sprinter and long jumper first discovered athletics on UK Sport’s Discover Your Gold initiative, and was taken under the wing of Malcolm, new head coach of the British Athletics Olympic Programme, during her first taste of training with senior competitors.

Taylor is part of the British Athletics Paralympic Futures Academy Programme and captained GB at the 2019 World Para Athletics Junior Championships – where she won silver medals in both the T42-64 100m and 200m events.

Appearances at the Müller Anniversary Games and this year’s British Championships are further evidence of Taylor’s rapid rise on the international scene, and the Loughborough University student remembers her first meeting with fellow Gwent star Malcolm as a turning point in her progression.

“I remember meeting Christian early on and mixing with a group of athletes who were preparing for the Commonwealth Games at the time, which was extremely valuable,” said Taylor, who is financially supported by a three-year partnership between GVC Holdings and SportsAid as part of GVC’s Pitching In initiative.

“They showed me what para sport at elite level is like, and Christian in particular is such a great guy to be around. He knows when to work hard, he knows how to get the best out of the athletes but he also really cares as well - for us as individuals both on and off the track.

“Last year was great – the Anniversary Games stands out because competing in front of such a big crowd in a stadium that’s hosted the Paralympic Games and the World Championships was a dream come true.

South Wales Argus:

“It would’ve been nice to continue that success into 2020 and it was disappointing that so many events were cancelled because of the coronavirus epidemic, but I’ve been lucky to return to competition and I was really grateful to run at the British Championships in August, particularly as para events are rarely in the schedule.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid in 2019 to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

The investment will provide funding for training, travel and equipment and allow athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

While lockdown provided a large obstacle to her 2020 plans, Taylor explains she how she used the extra time to best effect, in order to help her continue towards the next stepping stone in her athletics journey.

She said: “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do much training during lockdown because I find it difficult to run on grass or tarmac. I had to adapt and try and maintain fitness without doing as much running.

“I’d picked up a leg injury during the winter so actually the break gave me more time to get back to basics, and get fitter and stronger. Having another year of training behind me can only help me going into the senior events.

“My main focus for 2021 is the outdoor season. This year’s Para Athletics European Championships have been postponed until next summer, so I’m aiming for that.

“To go to my first senior championships and represent Great Britain again would be amazing.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group 50 of UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit to find out more.