A BLEEP test to European and World champion: it’s been quite a journey for Maria Lyle.

The sprinter from Dunbar has represented Great Britain and Scotland on the track since taking up running at the age of nine.

Now, 20 years old, Lyle reflected on her success alongside coach – and former East Lothian athletics development officer – Jamie Bowie during a special interview with scottishathletics during lockdown.

It was a PE lesson at Dunbar Primary School, under the tutelage of her mum Susan, that a love of running was first ignited.

Lyle said: “People have perceptions of you when you have a disability (cerebral palsy) and that was the case for me in primary school.

“One day, when I was in about primary four, we had a multi-stage fitness bleep test-type thing to do.

“I wasn’t any good at anything and everything and I wasn’t looking forward to it at all – even though my mum was the teacher.

“Running at that stage usually ended with me falling over 90 per cent of the time and cutting my knees.

“But I thought I would have a go and, basically, I was the last pupil standing at the end of the test. That one moment sparked my love of athletics.

“I joined the local running club in Dunbar and after a while started competing in disability events.

“I felt a sense of inclusion with the group at the club and I loved it at Dunbar Running Club.

“That test was the first time I’d felt I could be good at something and felt a sense of achievement.

“I think everyone was surprised and I was surprised as well.

“I suddenly thought ‘I can do running’ so that was a big moment for me.”

Added Lyle: “Within a few years, my mum started looking at Para sport competitions and my parents took me all over the country to compete.  Sometimes I was crying on the start-line I was so nervous but I managed to get over that.

“Para sport is different from able-bodied athletics: with less numbers, you can compete at international level at 14. That’s normal in Para sport.

“I did that and managed to cope with it – although I could run the times at the age of 12 I could not have coped with it at that age, being at competitions and so on.”

Lyle, who has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, would go on to move south of the border but found the move was impacting upon her mental health.

A return home saw a link with Bowie, who was the county’s athletics development officer for four-and-a-half years, formed and helped get her back on track.

She said: “I’ve always known Jamie through running.

“Obviously, while I was being coached by other people, Jamie was doing his own athletics so when I came back from living down near London I was in quite a bad place with my mental health.

“Even just the basics of training, my technique on the track and the gym, needed worked on.

“Myself and my mum approached Jamie to see if he would take me on and he kindly said yes.

“I think it was good for me just to go back to the basics and learn how to run again and all the important fundamentals you need to be successful.”

Lyle was due to represent Team GB at her second Paralympic Games later this year before the Games in Tokyo were postponed for 12 months due to the global pandemic.

In Rio in 2016, she won bronze in the T35 100m and 200m and was part of the British team taking silver in the 4x100m relay in the T35-38 category.

Since then, she has medalled at both the World Championships in London and the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.