Wellingborough pupils strike silver at mini-Paralympics

Pupils from Friars Academy took part in the Panathlon Challenge
Pupils from Friars Academy took part in the Panathlon Challenge

A team of disabled Wellingborough pupils have won silver at the Panathlon Challenge – a ‘mini Paralympics’ for children.

The pupils from Friars Academy battled it out with two teams from Buckinghamshire and one from Warwickshire at the regional invitational event at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games, which saw 136 disabled young people from 11 schools across five counties take part in back-to-back Panathlon competitions, many of them for the first time.

Head of PE at Friars Academy Rhian Turnbull said: “Panathlon is excellent. As a school we love competition.

“All of the kids get something from this, no matter what ability they are.

“It’s great to get them out for the day, they can come and compete, have a go and have a good day with other people.”

The 21-strong team, aged 11 to 15 and with a range of special educational needs, put in a consistent performance, winning one gold, three silver and two bronze medals in the six Panathlon events, which use adaptive equipment to enable more children to take part.

They were beaten to first place overall by the team from Warwickshire, but everyone in the team went hope in high spirits after an enjoyable day.

Kieran McCarthy, 13 said: “It’s good to take part. It makes me feel happy.”

The teenager, who helped his team to silver medals at table cricket and field athletics and a gold in the athletics relay races, said: “I like the table cricket – that’s my favourite event.

“You can bowl or also bat to hit the numbers. I’m a bowler.”

Enamul Rohman, also 13, said: “I’ve done table cricket and kurling. It’s really good and I’m having fun.

“It feels fantastic. We won a medal for second place for table cricket. It feels good.”

Panathlon is a national charity which provides sporting opportunities for more than 5,000 disabled young people across the country each year.

Panathlon currently reaches all 32 London boroughs and 26 counties and continues to grow nationwide, with 30 counties are set to be involved by 2017.

Northamptonshire is one of the more recent recruits to Panathlon, with Friars Academy leading the way as the county’s lead school on Project Ability - a Youth Sport Trust initiative.

The school hosted the county’s first Panathlon Challenge in March and also held a Primary Panathlon - aimed at building foundation skills in five- to 11-year olds in a range of Panathlon sports.

A team of students from Manor School Sports College in Raunds oversaw proceedings in the Panathlon Challenge taking place on the other side of the curtain at the Guttman Centre in Stoke Mandeville – named after Dr Ludwig Guttman, founder of the Paralympic Games.

The Year Nine and 10 pupils, who acted as officials for each of the sports, are among the 1,000 young people trained as Panathlon young leaders on official Panathlon training courses.

Ryan O’Donoghue, 15, who helped run the polybat event, said: “It’s good helping all of the competitors, particularly those who are less able.

“It’s really rewarding. It’s good for developing my communication skills and people skills.”