Beccles youngsters win gold at Olympic Park sports contest

Pupils with disabilities and special educational needs from Beccles have been crowned south east champions at the Copper Box Arena at London’s Olympic Park.

Albert Pye's star pupil Riley Barber in the Panathlon Primary Finals at the Olympic Copper Box Arena

Albert Pye's star pupil Riley Barber in the Panathlon Primary Finals at the Olympic Copper Box Arena. Picture: Andrew Fosker/Seconds Left Images. - Credit: Andrew Fosker / Seconds Left Images

Youngsters from 21 schools across London and the south east all had to progress through regional qualifiers to reach the Panathlon Primary Finals at the 2012 Olympic venue yesterday, with pupils from Albert Pye Primary School coming away victorious.

The venue was split into two, with a final for London teams on one side, and Albert Pye finishing as gold medallists in the south east competition, beating Halifax School from Ipswich into second, and Colchester’s Doucecroft School in third.

Panathlon is a charity that gives over 10,000 youngsters every year the opportunity to participate in competitive sport.

Pupils competed over many different disciplines including boccia, football, new-age kurling, polybat, table cricket and running races.

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Star of the day for Albert Pye was Riley Barber, who is a ‘veteran’ of Panathlon competitions, and last year won the Emma Holloway Foundation Suffolk Outstanding Achiever award.

The nine-year-old has dyspraxia and learning difficulties. He said: “Being here at the Copper Box is so exciting. I love it so much – I give it 10 out of 10.”

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His PE teacher, Stuart McKenzie, has been leading lunchtime and after-school practice sessions specifically for Panathlon competitions.

He said: “One of the many, many things we love about this competition is that it’s not a ‘well done you’ tap-on-the-head kind of event.

“Our school is mainstream and pupils have got to eight county finals this year. When we have kids up on stage in assembly on a Friday, this counts this as an equally impressive achievement to anything the other pupils have done. They get a cheer from the whole school and everyone knows these medals have been earned, not just handed out for participation.”

The Albert Pye team included youngsters diagnosed with dyspraxia, cerebral palsy and ADHD.

Mr McKenzie said: “It’s massive for them. They have great fun. Their class teachers tell me regularly about their confidence growing as a result of it. They talk about sport in a positive way.”

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