Barking and Dagenham youngsters retain Panathlon London title at Copper Box Arena
PUBLISHED: 16:46 19 June 2018
A teenager with cerebral palsy has led her fellow pupils from Barking and Dagenham to their third win in a row at a Panathlon tournament for disabled youngsters.
Georgina Hart and her teammates received gold medals from wheelchair racing legend Tanni Grey-Thompson at the Copper Box Arena on Thursday.
Georgina, 18, is a key member of the borough’s victorious Panathlon London Multisport Final squad, who triumphed over more than 1,500 pupils across the capital.
A Team GB hopeful in her chosen sport of club throwing, she was featured on this year’s Sport Relief for her work speaking out against bullying.
Picking up her prize from the 11-time Paralympic champion, Georgina said: “I’m incredibly proud. No matter how many times I come here I’m always a little bit nervous but to win gold again is a dream come true.”
Since taking up sport, the Jo Richardson Community School pupil’s confidence has rocketed. Georgina has overcome a tough time in junior school to be named the sport charity’s Jack Petchey Outstanding Achievement Award-winner in 2015.
“She [Georgina] started in Year 7 and has just grown and grown,” said Emma Gillon, head of the council’s healthy lifestyles team.
“She is more outgoing and has blossomed into a fantastic role model, and Panathlon has been key to that.”
Georgina’s mum, Susan, agreed.
The organisation “opened so many doors for her,” the 52-year-old said, adding: “She was accepted here and that has helped her feel accepted everywhere – she’s starred in shows at the Queen’s Theatre, has done public speaking and volunteers at the Sycamore Trust helping autistic children.”
Baroness Grey-Thompson, 48, heaped further praise on the games.
“It’s amazing to be here; it’s such a cool atmosphere,” she said. “It’s a little while since I came to my last Panathlon event and it has grown so much in that time.”
Youngsters from Barking and Dagenham scored 60 points at the former London 2012 Olympics site in Stratford, a margin of 12 over second-place Enfield. Merton claimed bronze with 32 points, beating Croydon (also 32) thanks to a higher peak score in table cricket.