A group of schoolchildren from Bury have won gold for Suffolk at the east final of the Panathlon Challenge — a mini Paralympics for children.
With British number one-ranked wheelchair athlete Richard Chiassaro watching on, the pupils from Priory School and Riverwalk School saw off competition from Essex and Cambridgeshire to win the first ever regional final of the multisport competition, which took place at The College at Braintree, Essex.
“This is pretty amazing,” said Jane Chave, PE teacher at Priory School. “We didn’t think we’d achieve this.
“The kids are delighted. It’s a reward for their teamwork.”
The Suffolk team won a tense final thanks to victories in table cricket and polybat plus a second place in new age kurling – all Panathlon sports played with adaptive equipment to enable more children to take part – but they required victory in the day’s final round of relay races to clinch victory over strong teams from Thurrock and Chelmsford in Essex and a combined Cambridgeshire team.
Priory School pupil Melissa Fletcher, part of the winning Suffolk team, said: “I’m very happy.
“We’re all really excited to get the trophy. It’s been a really good day.”
Panathlon is a national charity which provides sporting opportunities for more than 4,000 disabled young people across the country each year.
In Suffolk, 278 young people from 18 schools took part in five Panathlon competitions in 2013/14, with more than 1,900 active hours of sport provided to disabled children.
Priory School and Riverwalk School won July’s Suffolk final as a combined St Edmundsbury team, giving them the opportunity to progress to the inaugural Panathlon regional final, made possible thanks to funding from organisations such as Les Mills UK and the Peter Harrison Foundation.
Brianne Hogg, PE co-ordinator at Riverwalk School, said: “Some of our students here aren’t those we’d normally take out to sporting events, so it’s great for those who don’t experience this normally to have a turn.”