Royal Surrey cheers on Para Athletics World Championships hopeful

Royal Surrey County Hospital is cheering on Dillon Labrooy as he bids for a place in the Team GB squad for the Para Athletics World Championships.

Dillon, who joined the Trust in November 2016 as an HR apprentice, has this week been flown to Switzerland by British Athletics in a bid to secure the qualifying time he needs to compete in the competition in London this summer.

Over three days the 19-year-old, who has been in a wheelchair since birth, will take to the track at the Swiss Open Nationals in Abon in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m heats and finals.

The following week Dillon will travel to Nottwil, also in Switzerland, where he will be competing in the same disciplines at the Para Athletics Grandprix.

The teenager, who lives in Guildford, only took up athletics four years ago after trying wheelchair racing for the first time following the Olympic Games in London.

Dillon now shares coach Jenny Archer, with six times Paralympic champion David Weir, who most recently took a seventh wheelchair title at the London Marathon.

He is also part of the David Weir’s athletics academy, the WeirArcher Academy.

Dillon trains every day, either on the track at Kingsmeadow Athletic Stadium in Kingston, Surrey, or on the roads in Richmond Park.

He has previously represented Team GB at the World Junior Para Athletics Championships, where he secured a gold medal in the 1500m and bronze in the 100m.

He said that David Weir, known as the Weirwolf, has been a real inspiration and a source of encouragement and advice.

“I am quite close to achieving the qualifying times for the Para Athletics World Championships and so I’m being flown out to compete in Switzerland to hopefully shave the few seconds I need off my personal bests,” said Dillon.

“There is quite a lot of pressure to achieve the qualifying time, but I cope by trying not to think about it too much.

“Work is a great distraction.”

Dillon is now seven months into an 18 month apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships offer structured training with an employer and lead to nationally recognised qualifications.

Working for the Trust Dillon receives a weekly payment above the minimum wage and ‘on-the-job’ training, as well as study for a national qualification.

“I am really enjoying it,” he said.

“Working at Royal Surrey fits in well around my training schedule and my colleagues are incredibly supportive and flexible to ensure I can travel to competitions.”

Royal Surrey’s Chair, Sue Sjuve, said: “I think I speak for everyone at Royal Surrey when I wish Dillon the very best of luck.

“I am told that as well as proving himself a shining star on the track, Dillon is also excelling at his apprenticeship.

“All your friends and colleagues at Royal Surrey will be rooting for you.”

For more information about apprenticeships at Royal Surrey email rsc-tr.resourcing@nhs.net

©2017 Royal Surrey County Hospital

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