A DISABLED athlete hopes to follow in the footsteps of South Tyneside’s recent Paralympic heroes after he was being inspired to chase his sporting dream.
Jordan Kelly, 15, from Sidney Street, Boldon Colliery, was one of 150 youngsters selected to take part in the Talent Inspiration Programme (TIP) at the 2013 Sainsbury’s School Games in Sheffield last month.
He says the experience has made him more determined to achieve Paralympic success, like borough swimmers Josef Craig and Nicole Lough – and he’s targeting Tokyo in 2020.
Josef, 16, from Jarrow, who, like Jordan, has cerebral palsy, competes in S7 events and qualified for the 2012 summer Paralympics in London, taking gold in a world-record time in the men’s 400m freestyle.
Nicole, 18, from South Shields, who has learning difficulties, made her senior debut in the International Paralympic Committee World Championships in Montreal this year, and came home with a bronze medal in the SB14 100m breaststroke.
Jordan, a pupil at Boldon School, came across another South Shields sporting star – Olympian and double Commonwealth gold medallist Chris Cook – during his three days in Sheffield.
He said: “It was really good, very inspirational.
“You can go there not knowing how to make the next step, then you come out with everything you need to know.
“It has made me very determined. I really want to go to Tokyo.”
Jordan, who was nominated for the TIP by school sports co-ordinator Amanada Legg, has been in a wheelchair all his life, and had never thought of taking part in sport until he joined Boldon School.
After researching the activities he was able to do, he opted for the precision club – a weighted baton that has to be thrown at a target on the ground to gain points – and slalom, which involves weaving through an obstacle course.
Last year, he took part in the National Junior Athletics Championships, and came first in the precision club and fourth in the slalom, which led to him being shortlisted for sporting excellence in the Pride of South Tyneside Awards 2013.
He is now taking up boccia, a precision ball sport, after being told he has a natural talent for it.
He will join a club at Percy Hedley School in Newcastle this month.
Although TIP participants did not compete at the event, they attended workshops, took part in practical sessions and watched some of the School Games competitions.