Niamh Hardy completes her first heptathlon just a year after being given the all-clear

Only two years after being diagnosed with cancer, City of Sheffield athlete Niamh Hardy completed her first heptathlon.

Competing a few days after her 17th birthday and one year since she was given the all-clear from cancer, Hardy finished ninth in the Yorkshire County Combined Events Championships at Cudworth.

“There were a few tears in the stands,” her mother, Rachel, told AW. “Athletics has really helped Niamh as it made her physically and mentally strong enough to handle the treatment before her illness and since then has given her something to strive for.”

Hardy was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in her abdomen in September 2012 when aged 15. Intensive chemotherapy, radiotherapy and stem cell treatment was needed and she temporarily lost her hair and has been left with a large scar on her stomach – a battle wound she is, her mum says, quite proud of.

During her recovery she did a Race for Life 5km in a wheelchair and was still receiving treatment until March this year. But she has fought back into shape and in Cudworth took on everything from 100m hurdles and high jump through to 800m and javelin. What’s more, she had her GCSEs to tackle this year and plans to pursue further studies in exercise and sports science.

“Niamh never faltered and has done us proud,” said mum Rachel. “And in addition to her own athletics she is coaching every Wednesday and training to be an athletics official.”

Niamh said: “The diagnosis was a shock because I was a full time sports girl, I did athletics most nights a week. But I always thought about it one step at a time, I didn’t look forward to what was going to happen months ahead, it was more about, ‘next week I’ve got chemotherapy, be ready’.

“I was always determined to get back into my sport. In the past yes, I wanted to be like Jessica Ennis-Hill, but now I am just glad to be able to go down to the track and do my events that I love.”

Niamh’s younger sister, Faith, also does athletics while her dad, Glenn, is running the Bupa Great Yorkshire Run on September 28 to raise money for Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where Niamh was treated.