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Budding athletes shine at prestigious Panathlon event

PUBLISHED: 12:54 15 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:54 15 November 2017

The North Suffolk team (blue) competed in the Panathlon South of England Multisport final in Harlow, Essex. Pictures: Paul Harding

The North Suffolk team (blue) competed in the Panathlon South of England Multisport final in Harlow, Essex. Pictures: Paul Harding

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A team of young athletes from across North Suffolk joined forces to compete in the southern area finals of a prestigious multisport contest.

The North Suffolk team (blue) competed in the Panathlon South of England Multisport final in Harlow, Essex. Pictures: Paul HardingThe North Suffolk team (blue) competed in the Panathlon South of England Multisport final in Harlow, Essex. Pictures: Paul Harding

The North Suffolk youngsters narrowly missed out on a medal at the Panathlon South of England multisport final in Harlow on Monday.

The team of children with disabilities and special educational needs – who were predominantly from Ormiston Denes Academy in Lowestoft, with one pupil from Bungay High School – competed against eventual winners Thurrock, Barking and Dagenham and Berkshire at the event.

They competed in the traditional Panathlon multisport events of boccia, polybat, new-age kurling, table cricket, field athletics and athletics races.

All four teams had battled through several rounds of qualifying to reach what is the pinnacle of Panathlon’s competitive calendar in the south of England.

The North Suffolk team (blue) competed in the Panathlon South of England Multisport final in Harlow, Essex. Pictures: Paul HardingThe North Suffolk team (blue) competed in the Panathlon South of England Multisport final in Harlow, Essex. Pictures: Paul Harding

The charity gives more than 13,000 young people with disabilities and special educational needs the chance every year to engage in competitive sport they are so often denied elsewhere.

North Suffolk finished in fourth place on the day, and Tom Woodrow, the new head of PE at Ormiston Denes, was “very impressed” with the children’s efforts.

Experiencing Panathlon for the first time, Mr Woodrow admitted he was instantly impressed by the standard and organisation of the event.

He said: “I only joined the school in September and we had already qualified for the South of England divisional final.

“I had not heard of Panathlon before, but it is clearly a great charity offering this fantastic opportunity to engage in sport.

“I am very impressed and the youngsters absolutely love it. They may not get the same opportunities in school with the likes of football and rugby, but this gives them a great opportunity to try and play lots of different sports.

“It is also great to see them mixing with students from other schools.”

Panathlon chief operating officer, Tony Waymouth, said: “The South of England Divisional Finals was a fantastic event, with everyone taking part in the right spirit and showing great enthusiasm and ability. We would like to thank everyone who supported the event and to congratulate Thurrock on their success.”

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