More than 250 young disabled athletes from across Yorkshire came together this month to vie for places in a national championships.
For many youngsters taking part in the Typhoo Yorkshire Regional Athletics Championships at Barnsley’s Dorothy Hyman Stadium, it was their first experience of such an event.
But many elite disabled athletes began their careers at the national competition. Paralympians Hannah Cockroft, Shelly Woods, Aled Davies and Hollie Arnold were among those who moved up the ranks to become world-class athletes.
The successful Yorkshire event that saw school teams from Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham take part, was one of many regional meets taking place throughout this summer.
Under the banner ‘Typhoo Sports for All’, the programme aims to open up disabled people’s access to local athletics competitions.
National charity the English Federation of Disability Sport teamed up with Typhoo to increase the opportunities for disabled athletes to pit their abilities against others.
Ian Spencer from Disability Sport Yorkshire, who helps to organise the event, said: ““It’s been a fantastic day of athletics in spite of the weather. We have seen some outstanding performances on the track and in the field and I am sure that many of the athletes here today will be competing for medals at the national championships. The rain certainly hasn’t dampened the spirits of the participants today.”
He added: “Hopefully the next Hannah Cockroft or Hollie Arnold will continue the tradition of Paralympic athletes from the region who have started out at these grassroots competitions.”
Barry Horne, Chief Executive for EFDS, added: “We’re delighted to be working again with Typhoo on this much-loved programme. It is always brilliant to see how many people get involved in this athletics programme, both competitors and volunteers. This is testament to the hard work that takes place every year. Typhoo’s support is extremely valuable and will ensure more disabled people use this opportunity to be active for life.”
Around 40 volunteers from local schools and FE colleges helped out on the day of the competition. They included students from Aston Comprehensive School at Sheffield, Greenacres School at Barnsley and Barnsley College.
Disabled athletes at the regional qualifiers were aiming for a place in their regional team at the National Junior Athletics Championships- the programme climax being on July 2 and 3 when over 250 12 to 20 year olds will take part in events at Warwick Athletics Stadium.
The full track and field programme means athletes with a wide range of impairments can take part. Last year, 1400 disabled athletes got involved across England.
Teams of dedicated volunteers deliver the regional events, including long-term partner Lions Club International. The Championships have been running successfully for the past 25 years giving young disabled athletes opportunities to develop their talent and compete against others .