MEGGAN Dawson-Farrell is under no illusions about the sweat, tears and toil the next 200 days will bring.

But if anyone is up to the task, it's her. When it comes to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Dawson-Farrell's path has already been potholed with greater adversity than most.

The 21-year-old from Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, was among the first athletes to confirm her place in Team Scotland last September, testament to a steely determination which has already seen her overcome a series of obstacles, not least undergoing emergency brain surgery six times in the past year.

Sitting alongside her mother, Kirstie, the wheelchair racer recounts events in an understated, matter-of-fact way, typical of her self-effacing manner. She was born with spina bifida, a fault in the spinal column in which one or more vertebrae fail to form properly, causing damage to the nervous system and leading to limited mobility.

In addition, Dawson-Farrell suffers from hydrocephalus, an accumulation of fluid in the cavities of the brain. The condition is treated by inserting a shunt, a special type of valve which drains the excess fluid, carrying it to other parts of the body. Between December 2012 and February last year, she had five separate surgeries after the shunt snapped, leading to an infection that began eating away at her brain and left a hole in the side of her head.

She spent the best part of three months in and out of hospital, but despite being given the all-clear to return to training and competition by mid-March, illness struck again in October. Initially, doctors thought it was a bacterial infection but after a week of vomiting and severe headaches, a brain scan revealed Dawson-Farrell's shunt was blocked, leading to a sixth emergency dash to theatre.

"When you have a brain operation you need time to recover before getting back to training," she says. "Then it happens again and you have to go through it all over again. You are always wondering, 'When will it happen next?' It is a massive fear that it will happen as I'm going into Glasgow 2014."

But Dawson-Farrell is determined not to let the uncertainty derail her ambitions. She currently holds the Scottish wheelchair racing record in every distance from the 400m to the marathon and has set her sights on a medal in the T54 1500m at Hampden Park this summer.

It's a scenario that neither she nor her parents could have envisaged a mere seven years ago when as a 14-year-old Meggan was dragged "kicking and screaming" to a sports camp in Largs, Ayrshire.

Emotion palpable in her voice, Kirstie admits by that stage Meggan had "kind of shut down", her formative childhood years blighted with frequent bullying about her disabilities. While her classmates did PE, Meggan was confined to more sedate activities such as painting or drawing.

As she grew older, the gulf with her peers continued to widen and by her early teens Meggan had withdrawn into herself. "People thought I was mute because I wouldn't speak to anyone," she recalls.

Her parents heard about a youth camp run by Scottish Spina Bifida Association and reckoned it was worth a shot. "We were quite sneaky and said we were going on a road trip to Largs," says Kirstie. "It was only when we were around 50 miles away we told her the truth. Meggan was lying in the back of the car, absolutely terrified. She kept saying things like: 'My shunt is blocked, I need to go to hospital.' When we arrived she told us: 'No way, I'm not staying'."

Kirstie and Meggan's father, John, remained resolute, but booked themselves into a nearby B&B in anticipation of the inevitable telephone call to go and retrieve their daughter. To their surprise, it never came. When they returned to collect Meggan three days later, the transformation couldn't have been more stark. "She was jumping for joy," says Kirstie. "Meggan loved it so much, she didn't want to come home."

A natural athletic talent coupled with grit and a fierce tenacity has since seen Dawson-Farrell rise steadily through the ranks. She burst onto the international scene with a ninth-place finish in the 2012 London Wheelchair Marathon, setting a new Scottish record of 2:22.55, a time she last year shaved more than four minutes off.

Her personal best over 1500m - the event in which she will compete at Glasgow 2014 - is 3:42.47, and she's currently ranked 12th in the world.

Athletics is one of five para-sports fully integrated in this summer's Games, alongside cycling, bowls, powerlifting and swimming. Conscious of some people's misguided notion of "plucky" disabled athletes competing "just for fun" and "trying their best", Dawson-Farrell is looking forward to helping change those perceptions.

"I don't know if I've ever had anyone feel sorry for me, but you do have that kind of thing go on," said Dawson-Farrell. "Obviously I do have difficulties in certain areas but in the end we are all the same and I train just as hard as anyone else."

She is coached by Ian Mirfin, who alongside wife Janice Eaglesham, was awarded the 2011 BBC Sports Unsung Hero Award for their work with disabled athletes at Red Star Athletics Club in the east end of Glasgow.

Mirfin, alongside her parents, physiotherapist Stewart Kerr and sportscotland institute for sport strength and conditioning coach David Boyd, form Dawson-Farrell's closest inner circle and a vital support system. "They are always there to help, not least when I'm all stroppy and losing the plot," says Dawson-Farrell, adding that her mother probably has the most to put up with on that count.

"I don't really," insists Kirstie. "Meggan is actually quite a cool character and perfect for wheelchair racing in that she never gets fazed or flustered. I don't know if that's because of all of the unpredictability in her life, but she seems to just take everything as it comes. Only a few years ago I had a daughter that wouldn't speak to anyone. I did seriously wonder: 'What is Meggan's life going to be like?'

"Before, there was no real direction for Meggan and I don't think she really believed in herself. That's been the biggest change. Her sport has given her that belief. She will take on anyone out on the track and always give it her all."

Having now recovered from her most recent brain surgery, Dawson-Farrell has subsequently been sidelined by a shoulder injury after sustained during a tough training session.

Her biggest bugbear, she says, is being "cooped up and bored" and she's been desperate to return to full training ahead of her first big event of the year, the FAZAA International Athletics Competition in Dubai next month.

Dawson-Farrell admits to one superstition. "On a race day I have to wear odd socks," she says. "If I have matching socks on, the race will simply not work out for me."

As for Glasgow 2014, in her mind's eye only one outcome will do. "I won't give up until I get my gold," she says. "I'm coming home with a medal."

Meggan Dawson-Farrell is one of the subjects of a series of Team Scotland "ones to watch" images released to mark 200 days to go until the Commonwealth Games. Keep up with all the Team Scotland news on the supporters' website or on Twitter @Team_Scotland