Wednesday, January 26, 2005


LAUREN PEFFERS, a 16-year old from Dunbar, has returned to Scotland
with gold and silver medals from the 800 and 1500 metres at the
Deaflympics in Melbourne, and a glowing testimonial suggesting she may
become the first hearing-impaired person to represent Great Britain in
mainstream athletics.
Peffers, a 16-year-old college student of physical education, holds
the European junior records for a deaf person at both distances
(2:14.90 and 4:41.16) just outside the GB qualifying standards for the
World Youth Games, principal event for mainstream athletes of her age
this year.
Stuart Harrison, the UK Deaf Sport development manager, said: "We are
now pushing for more funding from UK Sport."
UK Athletics selectors could not recall a previous deaf athlete in the
GB team, but it would by no means be an international first.
Vyacheslav Skomorokhov, of the Soviet Union, won the 400m hurdles at
the 1969 European Championships despite being completely deaf.
Other achievements among the sensory deprived include Marla Runyon,
first athlete to run in the Paralympics and Olympics, who is blind.
She finished eighth in the Sydney Olympic 1500m final.
Peffers' talent was spotted by Joe Bourhill at a cross-country event
for East Lothian primary schools. "I saw she had something special,"
he said.
For the past two years, she has been coached by Edinburgh guru Bill
Walker, who is also excited by her potential. "This success could do
her the world of good, because she is not always confident. She hangs
back and comes through very fast, and sometimes it costs her races."
Peffers own reward for her Australia success was her first bar of
chocolate after a self-imposed three-month ban.