27.Apr.12 P2P athletes compete in mini marathon
Once again there were a number of new and exciting athletes taking part in the London Mini Marathon, including some through P2P, England Athletics' Playground to Podium initiative designed to identify and nurture disabled young people with the potential to be elite athletes.
13-year-old Doaa Shayea (P2P Devon / Plymouth) has been working hard with her coach Ron Blank at her wheelchair racing, and has improved her times considerably since she started; she is now among the best juniors in the UK. England Athletics Disability Support Officer Job King said, "I dropped off her new racing chair on Monday and also did a session alongside coach Ron Blank. The global effect that sport has played for Doaa – who is the English speaker for her family - means she has also gained a lot more self-confidence."
As a result of the interest in wheelchair racing in the area, the Armada Athletics Network are developing the event locally with funding for an additional 2 racing chairs (through Sport England), plus the second hand chair Doaa has used until now. Armada Network co-ordinator Keith Reed said: "Doaa has shown an outstanding talent for wheelchair racing and has progressed so well that it has taken us all by surprise. Not only have her performances improved so dramatically but she has developed a new self-confidence which has helped her in so many other ways. I would also like to pay tribute to her coach Ron Blank who has worked so hard to get her where she is today. We are all so proud of Doaa and we will continue to support her in her athletics."
Doaa's school have also provided support in and out of the curriculum time for her development through her dedicated teaching assistant Jackie Barry. She now plans to take part in the Devon Championships and England Junior Championships. Mike Carpenter, manager for the Plymouth School Sports Partnership and of the extended leadership team at Sir John Hunt, said: "I am delighted for her; she is a real inspiration and shows what is possible through hard work and determination."
Doaa added: "I would like to thank Miss Barry and Keith for helping me to get my chair and helping me get to the race. I am really determined to train harder and I'm really excited for my next race. I wouldn't be where I am without my coach and everyone who has helped me."
15-year-old Ben Rowlings (P2P Shropshire) had a great weekend as well. On the Saturday he entered his first race of the season and smashed his 100m time by over 2seconds to record 19.56sec. This is a Paralympic A-Standard, over 800 points and placing him among the world top 20. Unfortunately he was disqualified in the 200m for clipping a line – which would have been 37.2sec. As Job says, "But that’s what first races are for!"
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