Panathlon Role Model Freya Levy has been handed a dream opportunity by Olympic legend Michael Johnson to attend his elite performance centre in the USA.
The 20-year-old from Essex is one of 12 athletes from around the world selected by the four-time Olympic gold medalist and a panel of experts in youth leadership, sport and social change to be part of his Positive Track course in Dallas, Texas, later this month.
The seven-day programme begins on May 14, with Freya arriving straight from Germany, where she is competing in the European Under-25 Wheelchair Basketball Championship for Great Britain.
Freya, who overcame muscular dystrophy to represent GB and has been a Panathlon ambassador for the past three years, commented: “I feel incredibly honoured to be chosen to be part of the Positive Track programme.
“To go to an elite, top-level performance centre and learn from a former Olympic legend such as Michael Johnson is an incredible opportunity.
“I’m hoping the lessons I can learn will help me as I continue to pursue accessibility for disabled sport back in the UK. There is so much more I want to do in this area and I am so excited that Michael Johnson Positive Track will help me achieve it.”
Following the course in Dallas, Positive Track and Panathlon will work with Freya through a personalised 12-month plan.
Michael Johnson said: “These young people are already doing incredible things in their communities. They are truly inspiring and have shown me the incredible plans they have for their communities, but which they need help to implement. We will be here to give them that help and cannot wait to see what they can achieve “.
Freya was submitted by Panathlon to our partner organisation, Coaches Across Continents, for selection due to Freya’s involvement with the charity over the past three years, after participating in event days and acting as a role model for primary school children in the Panathlon programme.
Freya, Active Essex’s Disabled Sports Personality of the Year in 2013/14, became involved with Panathlon “to ensure disabled children get an opportunity to participate in competitive sport with able-bodied children”.
“When I was first disabled and in a mainstream school, PE was really limited,” she recalled. “I played table tennis, but the teachers didn’t really know what to do with me. If Panathlon had been available to me when I was first looking at sport in school, it would have helped me a lot for sure at a young age.”
Tony Waymouth, Panathlon’s COO, explained: “We are ecstatic that Freya has been selected in the inaugural Michael Johnson Positive Track project.
“Her involvement in Panathlon and the community sees her as a real role model, and we will work with her upon her return from the USA on delivering further opportunities and impacting on young people as part of the MJPT scheme and Panathlon’s work.”
Freya has trained with the Great Britain senior women’s wheelchair basketball squad for the past four years and her main goal is to take part in the Paralympics.