Fifteen year old Freya Howgate is amongst one of the many talented athletes based at Perth Strathtay Harriers. She is a classified T37/F37 athlete, with cerebral palsy which affects mainly her left side.
T37/F37 are sport class allocations from the World Para Athletics classification system, part of a system which describes methods for dividing eligible athletes up into sport classes.
Athletes in the sport class T37 have sufficient function to run, while athletes in the sport class F37 have sufficient function in throwing ability from a standing position without support or aids.
You can find out more about specific class allocations on the World Para Athletics official guide.
A member of the Harriers for over 6 years, in her time with the club she’s achieved some amazing things.
This season she ranked in the UK Top 3 in three individual events, and was also named the best T37 female javelin thrower in the whole of the U.K. These are amazing achievements in and of themselves, and even moreso when you consider her age – Freya’s star is going to continue rising.
It’s been a mixture of hard work, determination, and support from those close to her that has helped to propel her to where she is today. “My family have provided support and all I need, and I’d like to thank them for this”, Freya tells me.
My family have provided support and all I need, and I’d like to thank them for this - Freya Howgate“My school Kilgraston have also been very supportive. Of course, a very special mention must be made to Jim Hunter, the coach and chair of Harriers. He has guided me and my family for many years - his help has been a huge factor in my successes.”
This year saw Freya being selected to represent Scotland at the U.K. School Games, a major multi-sport event for the most talented young athletes across the UK, with a reputation for fostering talent - many of the young athletes who participate go onto represent GB on a world stage.
I was lucky enough to get the chance to chat to Freya, and find out more about her experience representing Scotland, as well as her athletic practice and future trajectory.
You were selected to represent Scotland at the U.K. School Games in Loughborough in August 2018. What was this experience like?
“It was really fun representing Scotland at the school games, and I was so happy to bring home bronze and silver medals! I was away from home all alone for a few days and being part of that team of very talented athletes - both able and disabled - made me feel very proud to be Scottish.”
“My mum informed me of my selection and she was also very excited. The support down there from the whole Scotland team was fantastic. I learned a bit about being independent, but also about being in a large team environment.
“I’ll have to continue working really hard, so I can represent Scotland in the future once more!”
You compete in sprints and throws events. Could you tell me a little bit about what that involves?
“Athletics are a good way for people who want to work hard and get something out of it, while having fun. Sprinting involves running either 100m or 200m as fast as you can. Shot, discus and javelin are throwing events - basically it’s all about throwing them as far as possible! Each throws event have their own weights and required technique.” Being part of that team of very talented athletes - both able and disabled - made me feel very proud to be Scottish.
You were ranked the best T37 female javelin thrower in the U.K. this season, which is an incredible achievement – congratulations! How did you feel winning this?
“I've trained very hard in javelin – it's one of my favourite events! Practicing my technique has really paid off this year and I think I have shown steady improvement - although to become better I have had to learn from some not so good performances. Being ranked as number one is a nice feeling, and I hope to keep it going.”
What are your plans for the future with sports?
“I enjoy my sport right now and I'm happy at Perth Harriers – they help so much with all that I do.
“I hope that by continuing to train hard I might get another chance to represent Scotland. If I continue to improve then I’d love to be able to go to the Paralympics, or the Commonwealth games.”
One thing’s for certain and that’s that Freya aims high for the future, and that clearly this is paying off. After all, in her words: “If you don’t try you’ll never know”.
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