My name is Georgie Hermitage I am 26 years old and a world record holder in the T37 4x100 relay and now a Paralymic medalist.
My disability is hemiplegia, which is on the cerebral palsy spectrum, it affects my movement on the left hand side of my body. It mainly affects my left arm and leg, I also have trouble with balance and coordination.
When I was growing up sport was one of the things I really felt good at, I wasn’t very academic but loved P.E and my favourite day of the year was sports day. In my head I would train all year round for that one special day.
I did sport throughout my school life, when I was 11 my Grandfather introduced me to a local athletics club, I would train two times a week. It became clear quite quickly that I had a disability and I felt frustrated about not being able to compete equally with the others. This was the turning point for me when I was about 14 my coach at the time asked me if I would consider disability sport, as you can imagine as a teenager who had spent most of her life not overly aware of her disability it was not what I wanted to hear, I felt like if I was not good enough to compete as an ‘able bodied athlete’ then I’ll just leave it and that night I walked off the track and didn’t go back for about 10 years.
What was your dream growing up?
I had a few! Apart from loving running I enjoyed horse riding and dreamed of being a jockey but as I was quite tall I knew that was unlikely to happen!
Back then I dreamed of going to the Olympics not being fully aware of my disability.
How have your dreams changed as you got older?
After what was said to me when I was 14 I didn’t really have any other big aspirations, because sport had meant so much to me, once that dream was taken away I just enjoyed being a teenager and having fun with my friends. When I left school I did a BTEC in sport because it was the only thing I had any interest in. On finishing I went to work at a local brewery.
I think the lessons I learnt as a 14 year old taught me to be more of a realist I accepted that all the dreams that I had were no longer there anymore and I had to accept that I would never achieve them, which was quite hard.
When did you get back into running?
When the Olympics came to London in 2012 I was really lucky and got tickets to see Mo Farah run the 5,000m. Just being in that stadium that night reminded me of what I used to love doing. When we were walking home I spoke to my partner about what I had gone through, really it was the first time I had ever spoken about it. He was really supportive and said we should look into classification.
So London 2012 was really the trigger for me to get back into sport, I think without the Olympics I would probably not have reignited my dreams of running.
What are your dreams for your little girl Tilly?
Tilly is rather strong minded so although I may have dreams of her running one day, she has her own agenda, she is only 3 at the moment her favourite thing is dancing.
Could you explain what T37 means?
Sport Classes T32-38 and F31-38: The 30s sport classes are allocated to athletes with athetosis, ataxia and/or hypertonia. The impairments typically affect the ability to control legs, trunk, arms and hands. The lower the number is, the more significant the activity limitation. You will see athletes in the sport classes 31-34 compete in a seated position, e.g. in wheelchair racing or using a throwing chair. In contrast, athletes in the sport classes 35-38 show a better function in their legs and better trunk control and therefore compete standing, e.g. in running events, long jump or throwing events.
T 37 which is my category is one side affected, it effects both my arm and leg which makes coordination and balance hard. This affects me at starts as I don’t have a lot of strength to stand in the blocks. My other challenge is having a lower lactate threshold.
What are you training highlights?
My favourite session in the week is anything down the track which is over 200m all the strength endurance work I really enjoy.
What is a normal week of coaching?
I have two sessions with my strength and conditioning coach which mostly consist of core strength and stability exercises for glute building/strengthening for example deadlifts.
I’m on the track three times a week. I do the odd gym session in between on my own and I have physio once a week as well, so I’m pretty busy! My main day off is Saturday, other than that I have a session each day.
Because of my cerebral palsy I find it really hard to fire on the affected side so any session that is short and sharp I find challenging. It takes a long time for me to get my muscles to wake up to the session.
Any session with my physio is always tough because they concentrate on your weaknesses which can be hard mentally as well as physically.
How did you find out about Dreams?
I first heard about the charity through Olivia Breen who is a local athlete I compete with and I also train at Mint Condition where a member of staff Jo also trains and we have often spoken about the amazing work you do.
What does being an ambassador mean to you?
I have never been chosen to do anything like this before, it’s a huge honour for me to be involved and I just hope I can give something back and inspire the next generation of girls to get out and follow their dreams, and not be put off by people and opinions along the way.
Last question! What advice would you give to your younger self and other young girls?
I would probably tell her to try and accept herself. As hard as that may be at 14, accept who you are and have confidence in your own ability, because confidence is so important and if you have that belief in yourself then the battle is half won.
There is so much pressure on teenage girls to look and act a certain way, but if you have dreams and hobbies don’t let those disappear because what you're good at makes you, you. Never give that up just to be another person in a crowd.