IN a wonderful exhibition of competitive sport between four highly motivated teams, Team Thurrock became the new Essex Panathlon champions in the big county final, played out on 1 July. Pitched against reigning champions Harlow, Oakview School from Loughton and Tendring (Marketfield and Shorefield Schools), at the Riverside Sports Centre, Chelmsford, the Thurrock team, who have tried very hard in the past 2 years to win, finally achieved their goal to gain the prestigious title of Essex Panathlon Champions 2011.
They didn’t have it all their own way. Harlow, winners in the past 2 years, were right on their heels and in the end just couldn’t reach them, losing out by the narrowest of margins, 2 points. The teams from Oakview and Tendring also played their part, finishing with very creditable points totals themselves. All in all a tremendous final and a great credit to the competitiveness of over 100 disabled children in Essex.
Paralympic Gold Medalist and local “Essex Boy”, Dan Bentley was on hand to show his Boccia Skills, and Adam Alderman, Paralympic Powerlifter, was also present to award medals and to meet the competitors. The teams qualified from their semi-final competitions in May and competed across a range of sports – Boccia, Kurling, Polybat, Table Cricket and Athletics. The Panathlon Challenge is now in its twelfth successful year of delivering sporting opportunities and “mini-paralympic” type competitions for young disabled sports people.
The event goes ahead with the help of investment from the Jack Petchey Foundation, Hilton in the Community Foundation and Essex County Council. The Panathlon charity has invested around £25,000 in sports equipment, coaching sessions and multi-sports competitions in Essex over the last few months, creating sporting opportunities for disabled youngsters in ten school sport partnership areas.
Danny Crates, Paralympic Champion and Panathlon charity patron says: ”I’ve witnessed some great Panathlon events in the last year and the performances by young disabled athletes has been inspiring. The new investment from Jack Petchey Foundation, Essex County Council and the other funders, will benefit hundreds of disabled young people in Essex.”
Trudy Kilcullen, Chief Operations Officer for The Jack Petchey Foundation, which is investing £50,000 in Panathlon in London and Essex in 2011, said. “We believe that all young people should have the opportunity to achieve their potential. Panathlon is the only organisation that enables young disabled people to participate fully in competitive sports designed to suit their needs. We fully support their work and look forward to seeing even more disabled young people becoming coaches and sports leaders in the future.”
Brian Shaw, Curriculum Coordinator, PE and School Sport, for Essex CC said “The joy and sense of achievement shown on the faces of all of those athletes in the Final was immense. Well done to you all.”