FOUR years can be a long time. Four summers, four winters. Four birthdays and four Christmases.

In that time period, most people will feel they could do a lot. Change their career, or change their lifestyle. It is a real opportunity.

Many will have taken the first steps on that road, but surely not all the way. Surely, no major change will have taken effect in that time?

Tell that to Meggan Dawson-Farrell. In four years, while many of us were fraternising with the idea of making a change, she picked up an entirely new sport and then set off to compete at the Paralympic Games.

The Tullibody athlete was already involved in a successful athletics career when an injury curtailed her progression. It was then that the opportunity to become a wheelchair curler arose, and it’s fair to say Meggan has never looked back.

Speaking exclusively to the Advertiser, Meggan reflected on the day she heard that she would be travelling to Beijing with Team GB.

“It was actually just before Christmas we were told,” Meggan said. “We were training at the time, usually you’re at home when you get the call but we were training that week so our coach decided to tell us there and then.

“We got taken in one by one to be told if we were going or if we weren’t.”

Meggan was taken in second last, and nobody was giving any hints if they were going or not.

Despite asking, nobody told Meggan what their fate was – “because they’re evil,” she joked – and then she was called in and told she was one of those selected.

She continued: “You’re never prepared for that moment, whether or not you think you are, you’re not. I was ecstatic.

“You hope and pray that you are one of the lucky ones.”

Meggan’s family have played a huge role in her sporting career. Her mum and dad have spurred her on all the way.

She said: “They were absolutely over the moon for me, especially considering I didn’t have the most sporting background.

“For them it was the icing on the cake – all the hard work of [us] as a family, everything we’ve done to get me to where I am.

“Ultimately, it’s down to my mum and dad because if they hadn’t forced me to go to a sports camp, I wouldn’t be in sport.”

Meggan has said in the past her mum and aunt had to drag her, kicking and screaming, to a sports camp when she was younger. Looking back, they were right to do so.

“I am who I am today because of that,” she continued. “If they didn’t force me to go, I don’t know what I’d be doing today, and I don’t want to know.”

Meggan was joined in Beijing by teammates Hugh Nibloe, Gregor Ewan, David Melrose and alternate Charlotte McKenna. She has described the team as a family, and it’s that aspect that really set curling apart from athletics.

She said: “I still love how far I got in my athletics career but, for me, having the team aspect and having a team around you is something that is absolutely incredible.

“Going from a sport where it’s all down to me to a sport where you’ve got other athletes around you is amazing.

“It's funny when people hear we’ve given ourselves family member names, but we are a family – we do everything together and we’d do anything for each other.

“Having those people there during the games made the experience even more special.”

Not only did Meggan compete at the Paralympics, she was the flagbearer for Great Britain.

She decided not to tell her mum and dad, in order to surprise them. Unfortunately, they found out through social media.

She said: “They were ecstatic, they couldn’t believe it. They said to make sure I was near the front so they could see me…obviously, I come out and here I am front and centre.”

Despite not coming home with a medal, it’s clear Meggan loved her experience and has big hopes for the future.

She added: “We did our best, every team goes out to play their best. Not every team can come away with a medal.

“The medal winners in the end fully deserved the medals they got. We went out, we did our best and we just have to fight again in four years time and maybe bring home a medal then.

“I would absolutely love to be able to go again in four years' time; I just need to put in all the training, and hope I’m one of the fortunate ones that gets to do next time around.”

Meggan has spoken in the past about the obstacles she faced when she was at school as she tried to enjoy sports, and hopes the future is brighter for other young disabled athletes.

She said: “I hope that school people would change over the years and see people with disabilities can do things.

“We just have to adapt, but, ultimately, we can do pretty much anything and everything anyone can do. We shouldn’t be pushed off to the side and made to think we can’t do anything because we can.

“[The Paralympics] shows that it doesn’t matter if you’re in a sport for two years, one year [or] half a year, if you put your mind to it you can do anything. You just have to have that determination.”