School Sport: Barking pupils earn silver lining at Panathlon finals
PUBLISHED: 13:30 24 June 2015
Andrew Fosker / Seconds Left Images 2015
Borough competes against London rivals at iconic London 2012 venue
Barking & Dagenham took silver in the final of the Panathlon Challenge, which was held at Stratford’s Copper Box in the Olympic Park.
The team, consisting of 11-to-19-year-olds from Trinity, Eastbrook, All Saints, Jo Richardson and Barking Abbey schools, finished second behind overall champions Croydon.
The borough squad put in a strong performance across an array of events during the day, such as polybat (below), winning gold in the boccia along with a silver and a bronze, before winning the athletics relay races.
The results were enough to see them finish level on points in second with Sutton, but Barking & Dagenham were awarded silver medals on countback which left Lesley Montague full of pride.
“It’s always a really lovely day and a fantastic competition,” said Montague, a PE teacher at the Jo Richardson School. “Panathlon provides an opportunity for students who otherwise wouldn’t shine in PE. The opportunity to compete at this level wouldn’t be there otherwise.
“That’s why our schools are willing to give so much time to Panathlon, because where else are you going to get this quality of event?”
It was an extra special day for 14-year-old Georgina Hart, who read the Panathlon oath before the day got underway.
Hart was joined on the podium by three-time Paralympic medalist Liz Johnson, who read the athletes’ oath at the London Paralympic Games in 2012, but that was not the only reason why the youngster was excited.
“It’s amazing to be here, plus it means we’ve got no lessons!” joked Hart. “It’s amazing to be here at the Copper Box and it was
amazing to read the Panathlon oath, alongside Liz.”
It’s the second year the competition has taken place at the iconic venue in east London and swimming star Johnson believes that has helped Panathlon grow.
“I love Panathlon because it gives everybody the chance to compete in sport, not just participate,” she said.
“Having the finals here at the Copper Box gives the pupils something extra to aim for.
“I’m sure it stirred the emotions in them as it did for us making it to the Olympics and Paralympics.”
The Panathlon Foundation has been delivering competitive events for young disabled people since 1999 and has already invested a total of £5.5million across London and 26 other counties.
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