Christmas has come early for disabled members of Doncaster Athletic Club.
The go-ahead Keepmoat Stadium-based club, who hope to become a regional training centre for athletes using the chairs, have just taken delivery of two state-of-the-art racing wheelchairs after receiving National Lottery funding.
“I don’t think that there is another club in the region to have these chairs,” said club chairman Kev Lincoln.
“Our own wheelchair users are busting a gut to get on them.
“The chair allows people with conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, or who are wheelchair-bound, to be mobile in a way that they have never been able to before.”
The wheelchairs, which cost around £600 each, are specifically designed for use on the track.
”You are probably only looking at them being used over 400 to 600 metres, that sort of thing,” said Kev.
“They are not designed to cover any length of distance as they aren’t stable enough and the steering is extremely sensitive.”
The club enjoy a proud reputation within the sport for its work with disabled athletes.
“We’ve always invested in that side of the club,” said Kev, who added that disabled youngsters attending local schools will be invited to try out the chairs in due course.
“We run a disability session between 5-6pm on Tuesday and Thursday nights but some of our long-term members now train with the main group at 6pm.
“They just integrate and everyone is used to having people with disability around and they are just part of the club. We don’t see anyone as being different.
“At the end of the day it is so satisfying to see people with disabilities doing things that they never dreamed that they’d be able to do.
“Diane Stanger is the lead coach and she is the expert if you’re in the field of disabled athletics, but we’ve also trained up five of our other coaches who can come together as a team if the numbers increase.”
Doncaster Athletic Club have been nominated for Decathlon’s UK running club of the year award.
The vote is taking place via the Decathlon blog (http://www.decathlon.co.uk/blog/competition/running-club-year-shortlist/) and closes on Thursday night.