Born with cerebral palsy, 12-year-old Bailey Whitton has defied the odds by competing in the 100 metres sprint at the NSW state athletics.
“He came last but when you consider he struggles to even walk, it was a huge achievement to then participate in a running race like that,” said his mother Tracy Whitton.
During the October 30th race in the Hunter, Bailey was aided by a specially designed race-runner.
The three-wheeled contraption has not been officially recognised by the Australian Paralympics Committee but has become a regular part of overseas races.
Bailey was among the first in the nation to compete using one.
In Denmark, where Bailey will be heading in July for an intensive race-runner development program, the aid has been in vogue for years.
Living in Junee, Bailey has few opportunities to train with the race-runner. His only method of training is to travel to Sydney for regular race meetings.
“In Denmark, they’re less than half the price. Here, we’d have to pay about $6000 to get one for Bailey, but there’s more competition there so they’re only about $2800,” said Mrs Whitton.
Ahead of travelling to the country, the Whitton family are planning to fundraise in the hopes of purchasing one there.
While competing against his able-bodied peers, the Junee Primary School student managed to qualify for three separate events.
In the shotput he placed 16th and and in the discuss 19th leaving him well within the state’s top achievers for his age.
“There were about 40 other competitors. A lot of them had disabilities too, but they varied between physical and intellectual. There could be anything from autism to Bailey with CP,” said Mrs Whitton.
“He had to throw while seated, so that’s a whole other skill to master.”
This was Bailey’s first experience in competitive sports, and Mrs Whitton believes it could not have gone better for him.
“I was blown away with how everyone in the stands cheered for Bailey and [the other race-runner] Aaron,” she said.
“It was as if they were Kurt Fearnley, and to me as a mum, I thought it was just beautiful.”