World Para-athletics European Championships: 'It's been a tough year,' says gold medallist Maria Lyle

Maria Lyle
"I am not a quitter and I didn't want to give up," says Lyle

Newly crowned World Para-athletics European champion Maria Lyle says she has battled with the pressure of being a young elite athlete.

The 18-year-old Scot has been in the GB team since making her debut aged 14 at the European Championships in Swansea.

She won her third European title in the T35 100m in Berlin on Tuesday.

"I have had a tough year and struggled with my mental health," she said. "For me, it was about just coming here and doing my best and I am really pleased."

She added: "A couple of weeks before the event I wasn't sure if I would come out and compete but I am not a quitter and I don't want to give up.

"I have had a few difficult years and when you don't perform, it can eat you up as a person when you expect so much.

"But sports and governing bodies are starting to recognise this and there is help available for athletes.

"This medal gives me big confidence. My main aim was to defend my title and I can't ask for any more. I just need to go back and prepare for the 200m."

Lyle's gold was one of three for Great Britain on the second day of competition in Germany.

Double Paralympic champion Richard Whitehead again showed his dominance in the T61 200m in a race which only had three entrants, while 21-year-old Sabrina Fortune claimed her first major title in the F20 shot.

"A lot of the time you have to understand it is a title and it needs to be competed for," said Whitehead.

"There wasn't the competition that I would have wanted, but you can only race who is in front of you.

"But this event is more about the legacy you leave as an athlete and is an opportunity to inspire the people of Berlin."

And Northern Ireland's Jason Smyth, representing Ireland, won his 17th major Para-athletics title when he triumphed in the 200m T13 final.

GB also added three bronzes to their medal tally thanks to the wheelchair racing trio of Mo Jomni (200m T53), Nathan Maguire (200m T54) and Stephen Osborne (T51 100m).