A SAUCHIE man will fulfil his dream of representing his country when he travels to the Deaflympics in Turkey.

Mitchell Graham, 24, will compete in the men's 200m and 400m events and is just back from two weeks in Tenerife where he trained to prepare himself for the stifling heat that awaits in Samsun.

He told the Advertiser Sport: "It was my first experience of hot weather training. It's important to do it on both a physical and mental level.

"It was a fantastic experience and I have learnt a lot during my time training. It was great opportunity for me and was also very beneficial."

The runner, who has raised £2,500 on his own to cover the cost of the trip, has represented Great Britain at the World and European Championships and can't wait to get back on the global stage.

He added: "I'm really excited. It's my first Deaflympics. It's one of the biggest things in the deaf community.

"You get to meet other people and compete with other people. Everyone at the Deaflympics is equal. We all understand each other."

Mitchell has a gruelling regime, which sees him out on the track four times a week and in the gym another two days as he builds his endurance.

However, the athlete lives on hard work and hopes to see it pay off when he lands in Turkey later this month.

He said: "You are running set after set and you start to feel tired but you push yourself, that's what I really enjoy about the sport."

After switching to sprinting from basketball when he was 19, and losing four stone in the process, he admitted that the journey to get to where he is today hasn't been easy.

He said: "I like to show other people that anything is possible as long as you fight for it. Nothing comes easy. Some people it comes naturally to and others it doesn't, but you have to work for it.

"My family and girlfriend have been a huge influence. They have helped me, pushed me and put up with a lot. I have sacrificed a lot of time to train and they all understand that."

He also cited his coach at Falkirk Victoria Harriers, David Lothian, as a crucial factor in his development as an athlete and a person.

"He helped me to get involved with the training group and made sure that I was achieving," Mitchell said. "He believed in me and had a lot of faith me in me, which really pushed me to be my best. He knows that I can do it."

Mitchell is currently studying to be a youth worker at the University of Canterbury Christ Church and away from the track is driven by his work with young people with learning, physical and sensory disability in the Forth Valley area.

He added: "I want to encourage the deaf community in Scotland to take part in sport and work towards becoming a top athlete. I want to be a role model."

"It comes naturally to me. My whole life it's what I have wanted to be, a role model."