Jarrow Paralympic champion boost for kids

Jarrow's Paralympic swimming star Josef Craig has been on the road encouraging youngsters in the sport.

Saturday, 7th January 2017, 11:00 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 11:40 am
Josef, left, Danny, centre, and Matt with the pupils

Josef, along with team mate Matt Wylie surprised a group of youngsters in Hartlepool when they joined them at their weekly swimming session.

Josef and Matt - along with their coach Danny Thompson - called in to the town’s Mill House Leisure Centre to meet pupils from the town’s Springwell School.

The trio from City of Sunderland Amateur Swimming Club spent around two hours with 23 children aged between five and 11, working first in a classroom and then taking to the pool.

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Their visit was arranged by Hartlepool Borough Council’s assistant aquatics manager David Grainge through his friendship with Danny.

Josef, 19, from Jarrow, who has cerebral palsy, was awarded an MBE in the 2013 New Year Honours List for services to swimming.

He won a gold medal in the 400m freestyle in a world record time at the 2012 London Paralympics.

This year, in Rio, he won bronze in the 100m freestyle.

He said: “The aim was to give the children some new skills that they didn’t have before, but, most of all, we wanted to have fun and I’m sure that was the case.”

Matt, 20, from Washington, wo also has cerebral palsy, won the gold medal in the 50m freestyle event at the 2016 Rio Paralympics after having also won gold at the European Championships earlier in the year.

He said: “Swimming internationally has opened many doors for us and we get to travel the world, but it is also very important to us to give something back to the local community.

“We were delighted to come along and work with the children from Springwell School.”

Springwell School PE teacher Scott Malabar said: “It was great to listen to Matt, Josef and Danny in the classroom – they were so inspirational.

“It was amazing to see what Matt and Josef do day in day out and how willing and happy they were to come and do this.”