SWIMMING superstar Josef Craig is returning home from the IPC World Championships after conquering all-comers with his ‘three-mendous’ achievements.
The 16-year-old, from Jarrow, scooped two gold medals and a silver, at the meet in Montreal, Canada.
It follows his gold medal victory at last year’s London Paralympic Games, where he came out on top in the Men’s S7 400m freestyle, breaking the world record – not once, but twice.
At the World Championships, Josef came first in the S7 100m freestyle, second in the S7 50m freestyle (finishing just 0.03 seconds behind the winner) and took another gold in the S7 400m freestyle, breaking the world record he set at the Paralympics.
The paralympic sporting star was typically modest about his achievements, and quick to praise the efforts of fellow South Shields swimmer Nicole Lough, 18, who took bronze in the IPC Women’s SB14 100m breaststroke.
Josef said: “I’m really happy with the week’s performances, for both myself and the team.
“I’m really chuffed to see two North East swimmers making it on the big stage, and pleased for Nicole and her family.
“I’d also like to thank my family and friends, everyone in South Tyneside, in the North East and throughout the country for their continued support.
“I’m so pleased I’ve defended my title and won another gold, but this time in a sprint event. I never thought I would hear myself saying that.
“I just want to add a huge thank you to everyone at South Tyneside Swimming Club, my team, who has helped to prepare me for this competition, in particular my coach Paul Robinson, also to everyone at Manchester’s High Performance Centre and the British Swimming Team for pushing me that extra mile.
“Without all these people it would be impossible for me to do what I have done, so thank you everyone so much.”
Others who have followed Josef’s career have also expressed their delight at his sensational performances in the Championships.
Barry Speker OBE, non-executive director for Careline Lifestyles, which sponsors Josef and runs Deneside Court, a specialist nursing and residential nursing care home, in Fellgate, where he is a regular visitor, said: “We are delighted at Josef’s achievements.
“He continues to impress everyone with his success and we are very proud to continue to sponsor him and to be working with him in the future.”
South Tyneside Mayor, Coun Ernest Gibson, said: “Josef is an absolutely phenomenal young man who works extremely hard and deserves his recent medal successes.
“You can’t help but feel overwhelming pride for the teenager, and both myself and the Mayoress are looking forward to welcoming him home, to personally congratulate him on his swimming achievements.”