A team of students from the Priory School in Bury St Edmunds tasted Olympic Park glory as they were crowned 2015 Panathlon South East swim champions this week.
The Priory team came out on top as more than 50 disabled young people from seven schools across London and the South East competed at the iconic London 2012 venue the London Aquatics Centre in the first regional swim finals held by the Panathlon Challenge, a mini-Paralympics for children.
The team of special needs students, representing South Suffolk after winning their regional qualifier in February, beat North Suffolk winners Lowestoft and two teams from Colchester to win the East of England final.
Thanks to a faster overall time over nine events than London champions Trinity School, from Barking & Dagenham, Priory were crowned overall Panathlon South East swim champions. They collected their trophy and medals from Paralympic swimming champion, Liz Johnson.
Jane Chave, PE teacher at the Priory School, said: “It’s amazing. We didn’t think we could do it, we had no expectations of winning and we had no idea right until the last moment when they announced it, so that was lovely. It’s awesome to be at an Olympic venue and, for the children to get a chance to compete at the same venue as Olympians, makes it special.”
Rhys Turnbull, a Year 10 student at Priory School, said: “It’s amazing. Not many people get to compete somewhere like this. It’s really good.”
Jade Horsfall, also a Year 10 student, said: “It’s a great venue. It’s very big and it looks great. I think taking part in sport is all good. It’s a bit of fun, we all enjoy it and it’s healthy.”
Panathlon provides sporting opportunities for 6,000 disabled young people each year, across London and 26 counties nationwide. More than 400 schools will have taken part in 120 of Panathlon’s mini-Paralympic competitions by the end of 2014-15, with more than 50,000 active hours of sport provided to disabled children.