Bury St Edmunds pupils win silver at London Aquatics Centre

Pupils from Priory School, Bury St Edmunds, competing in the Panathlon South of England Swimming Finals at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue (photo: Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images)
Pupils from Priory School, Bury St Edmunds, competing in the Panathlon South of England Swimming Finals at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue (photo: Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images)
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Pupils from Priory School, in Bury St Edmunds, have won silver medals at a sports charity event at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Aquatics Centre.

The students, who have a range of disabilities, competed in the Panathlon south of England swimming finals at the iconic London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue last Thursday.

Paralympic gold medallist Sam Hynd presents Colby Butlin, of Priory School, Bury St Edmunds, with a runner-up certificate and trophy at the Panathlon South of England Swimming Finals (photo: Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images)

Paralympic gold medallist Sam Hynd presents Colby Butlin, of Priory School, Bury St Edmunds, with a runner-up certificate and trophy at the Panathlon South of England Swimming Finals (photo: Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images)

Each year Panathlon provides more than 10,000 young people with disabilities and special needs the opportunity to take part in competitive sport that they are so often denied elsewhere.

Despite winning the title the previous two years, Priory missed out on gold at last week’s finals, finishing 10 points behind the winners from Whitefield School in Waltham Forest, London.

However, Priory pupil Mikey Wade, who won Panathlon’s Suffolk ‘highly commended’ award, was not too downhearted.

He said: “I love always trying my best. I am really excited to be here. I’m going to put my medal in my drawer at home.”

Colby Butlin, of Priory School, Bury St Edmunds, competing in the Panathlon South of England Swimming Finals at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue (photo: Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images)

Colby Butlin, of Priory School, Bury St Edmunds, competing in the Panathlon South of England Swimming Finals at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue (photo: Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images)

His classmate Colby Butlin, 16, said: “It was a really nice experience. I love Panathlon because it gives me the chance to do sports outside of school. It also keeps me out of trouble. Coming here to this giant stadium again has been unbelievable.”

Adding to their excitement, early arrivers were greeted with the sight of Olympian Tom Daley plunging spectacularly into the pool as he practised his diving.

Fellow medallist, Paralympic champion Sam Hynd was also on hand to officiate and give out medals and trophies on what was his first return to the Aquatics Centre since winning bronze there at London 2012.

He said: “I can’t think of any better circumstances to come back here – it brought it all back, the noise and the atmosphere of 2012.”

Pupils from Priory School, Bury St Edmunds, competing in the Panathlon South of England Swimming Finals at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue (photo: Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images)

Pupils from Priory School, Bury St Edmunds, competing in the Panathlon South of England Swimming Finals at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue (photo: Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images)

“These kids are very lucky to have these opportunities,” he added. “I never had any of this when I was younger, I had to join an able-bodied swimming club and make the best of it that I could. This sort of inclusive, high-profile event is just priceless for these children.”

Pupils from Priory School, Bury St Edmunds, competing in the Panathlon South of England Swimming Finals at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue (photo: Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images)

Pupils from Priory School, Bury St Edmunds, competing in the Panathlon South of England Swimming Finals at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue (photo: Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images)