A disabled boy from Hillingdon has been hailed as ‘inspirational’ as he was named the young participant of the year in the Panathlon Challenge – a ‘mini Paralympics’ for children.
Kavindu Ranasinghe, 10, who has cerebal palsy with spastic quadriplegia, was named as co-winner of the Wembley National Stadium Trust Primary-Aged Achievers Award.
He collected his award in the shadow of the stadium’s iconic arch at Powerleague Wembley, where the Panathlon Football Cup Finals were being played.
Lorraine Veck, Disability Sports Co-ordinator at Coteford Junior School in Fore Street, Eastcote , where Kavindu is a pupil, said: “Kavindu is just such an inspiration. We’re very proud of him.”
Rohitha Ranasinghe, Kavindu’s father, said: “We are very proud of Kavindu. He enjoys Panathlon.
“He might not do very well but still he gets to take part and he enjoys it. His confidence has grown and he is quite competitive.
“He wants to go faster but his electric wheelchair won’t go any faster!”
When he joined Coteford three years ago, Kavindu was unable to walk with a walking frame but was immediately encouraged to take part in disability sports training and, through determination and daily practice, his strength has improved hugely and he can now walk significant distances with his walker.
He quickly became an integral part of the Hillingdon Panathlon team and has represented his school in the precision beanbag throw - a Panathlon target game - as well as boccia , wheelchair races and his favourite event, the wheelchair slalom.
At school he also plays kurling and polybat, both Panathlon sports played with adaptive equipment to make them accessible to more people.
Panathlon is now proving so popular at Coteford that even able-bodied children are wanting to get involved.
“Lots of children come up to me now asking: ‘Why can’t I do Panathlon?’, said Ms Veck.
“I have to say: ‘Well, actually you can’t because you haven’t got a disability!’”
Kavindu and his fellow winner, nine-year-old Robert Walter from Twickenham, received their awards from representatives of the Wembley National Stadium Trust.
Kavindu’s award was a second for Coteford Junior School within a week, after 11-year-old Malik Berbiche, who finished at Coteford in the summer and is now at Harefield Academy in Northwood Way, Harefield, was highly commended in third place at the Jack Petchey Outstanding Achievement Awards, which celebrate the achievements of Panathlon’s secondary-aged competitors.