Great Britain’s Hannah Russell will be feeling at home in Dublin when she hits the water during the World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships.
A group of very special fans will make the one-and-a-half-hour drive from Roscrea, a city of around 6,000 people in mid-west Ireland, just to see her.
“I’m half-Irish and a lot of my mum’s side of the family lives in Ireland. They’re all travelling from Roscrea, including my grandparents and I’m really excited about it. To be racing in Dublin is very special to me,” she said.
Her parents are already used to travelling around the world to see the 22-year-old competing, including at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. So Russell will not be short on familiar faces at the National Aquatic Centre.
“I’m very fortunate that my immediate family always manage to be at every single major competition. My mom, dad and sister will also be here. I’ll feel close to home.”
Russell has five Paralympic medals to her name – including two golds from Rio. But the Europeans are an important chapter in her career, especially her first at Eindhoven 2014.
“I won my gold medal at the European Championships in 2014, I got the European record, became European champion and I turned 18 on the same day. So that day for me was really, really special.”
Since Russell made her Euros debut, she has remained unbeaten in the women’s 100m backstroke S12. In Dublin, her aim is a new personal best, which means even more considering she is the current world record holder.
“I’m really focused on my events. I came here really confident, my training has been really good. I would like to do my personal best and hopefully be on the medal podium. Things are going really well and I’m really positive.”
The women’s 50m and 100m freestyle are the other two events in which she is competing in Dublin. To make sure all goes well, she will finalise her preparations in a way that has proven to be very successful.
“I’m quite particular at what I like to do before my competitions. So before race day, I always like to have spaghetti bolognese. It is my go-to meal,” said Russell with a big smile.
The World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships start on Monday (13 August). You can buy tickets on the Paralympics Ireland website.