Q&A with Vistoria Bassett
Victoria Bassett is a T44 100m and 200m para-sprinter and PhD student based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Victoria was born with Bilateral Talipes, a congenital disability that affects the shape and direction of the foot in such a way that requires correction throughout childhood. She has recently earned a place on the British Athletics Futures Pathway, which sets her on the path of competing at the Paris 2024 Paralympics. We are delighted to be able to play a small part in supporting her journey – her first major goal is to compete in the 2022 Kobe Para Athletics World Championships!
How did you get involved in para-sprinting?
I got involved in para-sprinting in my last year of undergraduate study. I’d always been into running when I was younger (mainly long distance, rather ironically), but then I reached a certain age – as many do – where I became disinterested in sport and stopped doing it altogether. Throughout my childhood and adolescence I had never seen myself as disabled (despite knowing that I had a physical condition), let alone likely to pursue sport as a career so I didn’t really think about para-sport, let alone para sprinting. It wasn’t until I saw someone else competing at the 2012 Paralympics who had the same disability as me that I was inspired to give it a go. After that, I got classified as a para-athlete and the rest is history!
What has been your greatest para-sport achievement?
Honestly, it’s the emails I get asking for advice or saying how they’ve been inspired to try the sport as a disabled athlete! I’m very proud to have won a number of medals and to have been invited to compete alongside some of the greatest and most decorated athletes in para-sport, but nothing makes me feel better than getting that ‘I just wanted to say’ email.
What motivates you to keep training and compete to the best of your ability?
I really love working hard, it’s in my nature. I love working to prove to the world (and myself) what I know I’m capable of. What are my competitors doing right now? Are they slacking or are they on the grind? And what am I going to do to respond to that?
What are your aspirations in para-sprinting for 2022 and beyond?
Next year is the 2022 World Para Athletics Championships. I just missed out on Europeans this year so I’m determined to get a decent winter of training under my belt and step up the game.
How important is nutrition for para-sprinting?
Like any sport – competitive or not – nutrition is everything! It’s the difference between being able to smash every session and getting the bare minimum out of your training. I work hard already so why make it any harder?!
Growing up, who was your all-time inspirational sportsperson?
Victoria Pendleton. I love that someone so talented is able to completely throw themselves into the sport. Women are so underrepresented in the sport I was in awe of her ability to compete in the pretty masucline sport of track cycling – and become Olympic champion in the process! – and then the – arguably more male-dominated discipline of – national hunt racing. Two completely different sports. Loads of people expected her to fail and she smashed it out of the park. Now that’s inspiring.
What advice would you give to a young, aspiring para-athlete?
Just GO for it! There are so many things that hold people with disabilities back from participating in sport, public opinion often being one of them, but if you won’t show the world what you can do, who will?
What interests do you have outside of para-sprinting?
I’m a PhD student with an interest in women’s rights, sustainability and politics. I’ve started a podcast called Women with Disabilities. Keep your eyes peeled for some developments…
Describe your perfect weekend.
Fresh coffee, a nice big bowl of porridge and a Beet It shot to start a slow morning before I go to training. After that, I have a long and luxurious shower with lots of essential oils and self-care. In the afternoon I’ll head to Sheffield’s famous Sharrowvale road to get my treat for the week (usually a vegan DoNot from Olive and Joy) on my way to catch up with friends or visit the Peak District with my partner. In the evening I’ll make a lovely pasta dish (I love Italian food) and settle down to watch a film before heading to bed for an early night.
How has Beet It Sport helped your performance?
Beet It Shots are the perfect supplement to get me through those painful hill sessions and speed endurance training. They’re particularly useful during winter – when training is at its hardest – they help my body to get more oxygen to where I need it so I can focus on making sure that the last rep is as good as my first. You never know, that last rep could be the difference between gold and silver…