The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today wished good luck to 200 young disabled youngsters competing in this year's Panathlon Challenge in the capital. The Mayor has provided £85,000 towards the event, enabling one thousand youngsters to benefit from free specialist sports equipment, expert coaching sessions and mini "Paralympic" competitions.
Five London boroughs are competing in the finals tomorrow (Thursday) - Lambeth, Harrow, Haringey, Croydon and Barking and Dagenham – each of which have won their way through hard fought area finals. 200 athletes, aged from 8 to 18 and with severe learning difficulties and/or physical impairments, are taking part, competing in the sports of Boccia, New Age Kurling, Football, Polybat, Table Cricket and Athletics. Their aim is the honour of being crowned Panathlon Champions 2010.
The Mayor's Commissioner for Sport Kate Hoey will attend tomorrow's tournament, which takes place at the Westway Sports Centre from 11am and 2pm. Liz Johnson, Paralympic Gold Medallist in Beijing 2008, who broke the 100m breaststroke World Record in April, is also attending to encourage the competitors and hand out the medals.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: 'The Panathlon Challenge is a fantastic competition. It is about taking part, aspiration and achievement, three of the best motivators for young people. As 2012 approaches, I hope tournaments like this will inspire more Londoners, young and old alike, to take up sport and physical activity.'
The Mayor's investment is through the Sports Legacy Plan for London, which includes a £30 million commitment to support a range of activities and initiatives aimed at getting Londoners fitter and more active, as well as increasing access and improving facilities in the run up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Kate Hoey said: 'With the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games fast approaching, Panathlon is exactly the kind of initiative that we should all be getting behind. It brings real, competitive sport to those who might otherwise have missed out on involvement. The Mayor and I are both committed to getting as many young people as possible involved in sport. Events like this show that disability need not be any obstacle to participation. Panathlon deserve huge praise for what it is doing.'
Additional funding for the Panathlon has come from the Football Foundation and the Jack Petchey Foundation. There will also be a demonstration of Powerchair Football for severely disabled young people in a ground-breaking project with the Wheelchair Football Association, Brentford FC Community Trust and Tottenham Hotspur Foundation. Panathlon supported by the Football Foundation is creating five Powerchair Football clubs in London supported with specialist equipment and coaching.
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Panathlon does outstanding work in opening up a wide range of sports to our capital’s disabled young people. The Football Foundation’s funding has enabled Panathlon to provide football for around 450 footballers with severe learning difficulties and to launch Powerchair football in five clubs across London this year.”
Danny Crates, Paralympic Champion and Panathlon charity patron said: “Panathlon is a fantastic opportunity for young disabled Londoners to take part in sporting competition and I wish everybody the best of luck in their own search for gold medals.”
The Jack Petchey Foundation has donated £35,000 towards the Panathlon Challenge in London in 2010. Trudy Kilcullen, Chief Operations Officer for the Jack Petchey Foundation said. 'We are pleased to be supporting the Panathlon Challenge once again, which will benefit many young disabled people in London.'
To find more about Panathlon - visit www.panathlon.com ENDS
Notes to editors
1. Play Sport London is part of the Mayor's 'A Sporting Future for London' plan, which sets out the Mayor's plans to increase physical activity and sporting participation across the capital as a long lasting legacy arising from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Play Sport London programme provides grant funding to sports clubs and community groups. For more information about the Mayor's priorities for sport go to: www.london.gov.uk/priorities/sport.
2. Panathlon Challenge has been delivering competitive opportunities for young disabled Londoners since 1999. It has already invested £150,000 in sports equipment and coaching funds in 28 London Boroughs since October 2009. Multisport competitions have taken place between January and June 2010. Panathlon will also be working in Essex, Kent, Liverpool and other cities during 2010, involving around 2,500 disabled young people in total.
Panathlon Challenge involves the sports of Football, Athletics, Polybat, Table Cricket, Boccia and Kurling and involves disabled children aged between 5 and 19.
The Panathlon Foundation Charity (1072638) is funded this year by the Football Foundation, Peter Harrison Foundation and various trusts and charities.
Dame Tanni Grey -Thompson, one of the UK's most distinguished athletes of all time, winner of 11 Paralympic gold medals and holder of 30 world records, and a strong supporter of the Panathlon Challenge says 'Panathlon is striving to give everyone a chance to participate, regardless of ability and that is something I applaud. Good luck to everyone taking part in the Panathlon Challenge this year.'
Further details about Panathlon Challenge can be obtained from www.panathlon.com. Additional information is available from Ashley Iceton, Panathlon Challenge, 01277 373580 / Ashley@panathlon.com; or John Hymers, Spot on Marketing & Communications 01704 533197 / firstname.lastname@example.org
3. The Football Foundation is providing Panathlon with £242,000 between 2009 and 2011 to enable the project to expand to every London Borough. The Football Foundation is the country's largest sports charity funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government. Since it was launched in 2000 the Foundation has funded 178 sports projects for disabled people worth £13m. For more information visit www.footballfoundation.org.uk.
4. The Jack Petchey Foundation was established in 1999 and gives grants to programmes and projects that benefit young people aged 11-25. The Foundation is eager to help young people take advantage of opportunities and play a full part in society. The Foundation focuses on London and Essex. Since it has been established the Foundation has awarded grants totalling over £60million. http://www.jackpetcheyfoundation.org.uk
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