University of East London student Vanessa Daobry has set her sights on the Rio Paralympics as she begins her first international competition (March 17-20).

Vanessa, a wheelchair shot putter who is ranked No.1 in the UK, will be making her debut at the International Paralympic Committee Grand Prix event in Dubai. She only took up the sport in December 2014.

The 38-year-old said: “I’m still a new athlete but going to Dubai is just the first part towards where I need to be on the world rankings. I’m nervous and excited but I’m prepared for the weekend ahead.”

The first test will be to determine her classification. She said: “It’s important to get that classification right as it gives me an idea of what distance I need to be throwing to get me high in the world rankings.”

Vanessa embarked on the UEL’s 12-week New Beginnings course to help people back into education.

She said: “It’s definitely dusted a few cobwebs off the brain cells. My hope is to get on the undergraduate course for Sport and Exercise Science at UEL, starting in the next academic year.”

Vanessa has been working at UEL’s SportsDock facility near Royal Docks to beat her personal best stands of 6.55m.

She said: “UEL has helped me immensely – everything from getting access to strength and conditioning, nutrition and general support around being an athlete. It’s actually propelled me forward a lot faster, which is why I’ve now been selected for the Dubai competition.”