PHOTO 2024 06 11 10 32 13 (1)

Kayleigh's boccia switch books Paris place

Kayleigh Haggo's Paralympic dream set to come true after changing sport

Just two years ago Kayleigh Haggo’s world came crashing down and her Paralympic hopes were all but ended. A World and European Champion frame-runner, Kayleigh was devastated to find out her sport would not be included in the Paris Paralympics.

A dream she’d had since she first started frame-running at 12, to compete at a Paralympics, seemed to be over. But Kayleigh wasn’t willing to give it up, incredibly she started playing boccia with the aim of making the ParalympicsGB team.

Kayleigh even left her job to give herself the best possible chance. From having played boccia only a handful of times in two years she reached 13th in the world rankings and was last month named in the boccia team for Paris 2024.

Kayleigh said: “To find out was amazing, I knew the call was coming but had no idea I was going to be selected. I was over the moon.

“My dream from an early age was to go to a Paralympic Games, so when it was announced that frame running wouldn’t be included in Paris I couldn’t believe it.

“After I got over the shock I thought I need to find something else. I went on the Boccia UK website and they were looking for new athletes at the time, I filled out the form and it went from there.

“I got in the Scotland team quite early on. I won the Scottish Championship about three months after I started. I think because I’d had that experience of competing at a high level already, at World and European Championships, that really helped me.

“When I started I obviously had the goal of Paris but I didn’t think that was very likely, I had an eye on LA. It’s crazy to think I’ve made it to Paris in a different sport to the one I’ve been best at most of my life.”

“Once I got training with Boccia and started playing world class player and competing with them I knew I had a chance.”

Kayleigh is supported by the sportscotland institute of sport and sportscotland staff worked with her to help ease the transition between sports.

Performance Lifestyle practitioner Nikki Miskelly works with Kayleigh, providing a mentoring and counselling service to help Kayleigh manage all the challenges she may face both in sport and away from sport. While sportscotland Regional Physical Preparation Manager Alan Sinclair helps ensure she is in the best condition she can be to compete.

Physiotherapists Jesse Castillo and Alyssa Timoney work closely with Kayleigh and were able to manage her through a hip problem which could’ve required an operation and stalled her progress in her new sport.

Kayleigh’s love for sport doesn’t end with being an athlete. She worked as an Active Schools coordinator in South Ayrshire for three years before taking a role at Scottish Disability Sport.

She took the difficult decision to leave that job and throw everything at her boccia career.

Kayleigh added: “The support from sportscotland has been brilliant. I know that the people I work with I can always just give a quick message whenever I need anything and they’ll be there.

“When I was changing to boccia it was looking like I might need an operation on my hip. But the physio I got through sportscotland and the rehab work resolved the problem without an operation.”

The 25-year-old from Maybole held world records in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m, had frame-running featured in Paris a significant medal haul looked to be achievable.

Kayleigh, who has Cerebral palsy, admits the transition from high intensity races that are over in seconds to mentally intense boccia events which can last for days was a difficult one.

“The biggest difference between the sports has been mentally. With frame running when I had a bad day I could just go out for a run and clear my head. During competitions races are over quickly. Boccia is a long sport, during competitions you can be there for 5 or 6 days in a row. Adjusting to that and keeping mentally sharp for that period of time has been challenging. It’s totally different but I feel like I’m used to it now.”

Share links

Related Articles

Sml Charlie Alrdrige

Scottish success on world stage

Medals galore at 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships & Trinbago Commonwealth Youth Games

Read More
Fin Graham 2

Fin Graham eyes gold in Paris

Fin Graham goes in search of Paralympic gold in Paris 

Read More
Sportscotlandjudo 40

Sport For Life 23: Sarah Adlington

Judoka makes history with the help of a dedicated support team

Read More