Great Yarmouth woman sets her sights on Rio 2016

Emily-Mia Harris,18, is hoping to represent team GB as a para triathlete in Rio 2016

Emily-Mia Harris,18, is hoping to represent team GB as a para triathlete in Rio 2016 - Credit: Nick Butcher

Determined Emily-Mia Harris has her sights set on winning gold for her country at Rio in 2016.

Emily-Mia Harris,18, is hoping to represent team GB as a para triathlete in Rio 2016

Emily-Mia Harris,18, is hoping to represent team GB as a para triathlete in Rio 2016 - Credit: Nick Butcher

The remarkable para-triathlete has gone from novice cyclist to British Champion in just a few months and has clocked up the fastest triathlon swim in the world in her category.

Born without a tibia she had her leg amputated above the knee at the age of one.

At the time the prognosis was unclear and her family was told she probably wouldn't crawl, let alone walk.

However growing up she defied expectation, throwing herself into dancing, karate and horse-riding and just about everything she was told she couldn't or shouldn't do.

Emily-Mia Harris,18, is hoping to represent team GB as a para triathlete in Rio 2016

Emily-Mia Harris,18, is hoping to represent team GB as a para triathlete in Rio 2016 - Credit: Nick Butcher

She went on to forge a hugely successful swimming career winning hundreds of medals and was ranked 9th in the world for her 400m swim.

But for all her unflinching drive to achieve, the one thing she could never master was riding a bike.

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So when she was spotted as a potential triathlon talent it meant facing up to the one physical activity that had beaten her.

Since then bones have been broken but with her confidence and determination undimmed she now has a chance to train with the best and realise her Paralympic dreams.

It is a journey that ten years ago would have seemed impossible.

Then, she stole the nation's hearts with her plea for 'real toes'

Her family were locked in a bitter funding battle with the NHS who refused to pay for a realistic looking leg that would have given her the mobility she needed.

Stuck in a clunky old-fashioned prosthetic even walking was difficult for the youngster who dreamed of wearing flip-flops and running around with her chums.

Now, aged 18, her sights are set on bigger things - and no challenge is too daunting for the disabled teen who is an inspiration to everyone she meets.

Beauty therapy student Emily-Mia who lives in Bradwell with her mum Donna Doornbos-Harris and step-dad Steven Wood trains all the hours she can between her course at Great Yarmouth College and waitressing at Potter's Resort in Hopton.

It means running, cycling and swimming for several hours every day.

The triathlon event involves a 750m swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run and is being included in the Paralympics for the first time.

But competing against the best in the world in the supreme test of human achievement does not come cheap.

Her £30,000 carbon fibre running blades are sponsored by the Dorset clinic that has made her legs since she was a child.

The Sentinel Leisure Trust that operates the Marina Centre and Phoenix Pool lets her use the facilities for free and Pedal Revolution in Gorleston helps pay for the bike and repairs.

But her best chance of realising her full potential lies with trainer Hayley Ginn, who coached amputee Jonnie Peacock to 100m gold for Britain at London 2012 but the £70 sessions are beyond the pocket of her family who have already dug deep to bring her to this point.

Emily-Mia knows she has what it takes to clinch a medal but that seeing Hayley would give her the extra bit of help ahead of the team selections in June.

'It is the missing piece of the jigsaw,' she said. 'Every other aspect I feel I have covered, it's just the financial element.

'I have always found sport something I could do rather than something I couldn't. I want to get to Rio for myself and for my family because they have given me so much, and also to show people who doubted me when I was younger. It is nice to show younger kids with disabilities that if they can put their mind to something they can achieve anything.'