Dumfries’s Jonny Brown joined celebrities, Paralympians and military heroes for a unique triathlon challenge that binned all the usual barriers to sport, coming second out of quickest wave of participants at the event.
Jonny was one of seventeen young disabled volunteers and twenty-one care home residents from Leonard Cheshire services taking on the swim, cycle and run. The thousands of participants were divided into different groups to compete the race, depending on their logistical needs.
The 20-year old, who has autism, was congratulated by TV presenter and event host Clare Balding and Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock. They were amongst a host of other stars, including comedian Adam Hills, supporting the 2,500 disabled participants at the Superhero Tri challenge in Windsor on Saturday 18 August, powered by npower.
Jonny, who is a sports and fitness student at Dumfries and Galloway college said:
‘I’ve been training every Saturday in the run-up to the event, which wasn’t easy in this heat.
‘It was great to get to do an event like this. It was great to compete in front of all the people. I recovered ok after, I’ve got youth on my side!’
The keen sportsman is training for his next triathlon in and around Loch Ken in the village of Crossmichael.
Jonny has been with Leonard Cheshire’s youth volunteering scheme Can Do since May. He’s learnt a variety of skills and has enjoyed writing film reviews the most. He was joined by his dad Alan and sister Bethany, who also took part in the races on the day.
Alan, who with his wife Nicola runs the village shop and post office in Crossmichael said:
‘It’s amazing how the organisers managed having thousands of individuals with so many different disabilities. I saw people with very complex needs take part or be supported to take part.
‘The way the event managed different bikes, wheelchairs and transfers was amazing.
‘There is so much enjoyment when people realise they can do it, they can cross the finish line. The sky is limit, I hope next year even more people take part.
‘It was so good seeing Jonny race. He put in 100 times more effort than I’ve ever seen him put in before; he left me far behind, he was like a bat out of hell!
‘I think it was a really inspiring event, especially with the celebrities there giving all the time in the world to the disabled participants when meeting them afterwards.’
Billed as the UK’s only disability sports series for ‘everyday superheroes’, the event allows all participants to call the shots on what equipment they need and has no cut-off times. This allows individuals to test their sporting prowess without the barriers to sporting activity they may otherwise face.
Celebrities and participants at the event also used the opportunity to rally behind Leonard Cheshire’s call #actuallyIcan, which challenges disability stereotypes.
Pete Donnelly, Can Do programme manager at Leonard Cheshire said:
‘Taking part in sporting opportunities for young disabled people can be difficult both because of the lack of access to the sport and the expense of specialist equipment. Events such as the Superhero Tri create an inclusive environment where people can take part feeling less pressured and self-conscious.
‘Taking down some of the perceived barriers of needing to be of a certain ability to be part of a sporting activity will hopefully encourage more people that are watching the event to take part in sport locally or maybe come down next year!
‘Sport can be a great opportunity to build confidence and develop skills such as teamwork and communication, it’s also a great way to keep healthy, both for your body and mind.’
Discussing his highlights on the day Jonnie Peacock said:
‘I’ve had an awesome day today. I was captain of team npower, my team did such a great job and they all had so much fun. It’s great to finally put a spotlight on everyday people with disabilities.’
Everyday Superhero Jess Barnes, part of Team Fiona Cranswick said:
‘It’s 10 times better than we were expecting. The atmosphere has been amazing.
‘When you’re in a race situation you’re pushing as hard as you can and the crowd at the end really helps you through it. I would definitely come again.
‘Even though I won this competition because of my lovely sidekick dog Xenna. It’s been a pleasure and a real honour to be selected for the celebrity team. It’s been a lovely atmosphere with people of all disabilities accepted and being encouraged to come along.’
Paralympian and Superhero Series founder Sophia Warner said:
‘It’s great to finally put a spotlight on everyday people with disabilities enjoying and competing in sport.
‘The series has unleashed so many amazing Superheroes and today we witnessed their superpowers in action!
‘Thanks to all the super partners and everyone else for making it a reality once again. Here’s to the next one, Winter Wonderwheels!’
Leonard Cheshire sent a staggering 24 teams in total; a mixture of young people from its youth volunteer programme Can Do and disabled people from its services across the UK.