SOUTH Yorkshire Paralympic swordsman Craig McCann secured a boost in his bid for glory at the London 2012 games - after bus company First donated £2,500.
The 27-year-old, from Bessacarr, Doncaster, who trains in Sheffield, was handed the cash by representatives of the firm to help with his training costs.
Funding was granted by First’s regional charity committee, with Craig chosen from dozens of charity applications as one of the most deserving causes.
His application was supported by the Federation of Disability Sports Organisations, which is hosted by South Yorkshire Sport at the English Institute of Sport – Sheffield, in Coleridge Road, Sheffield, where Craig does most of his training.
Craig became disabled after he suffered a brain tumour in 2004, which needed surgery to remove. He was left with nerve damage in the left side of his body and balance problems.
Craig only took up his sport last year when he attended a Paralympic Potential day held by UK Sport and Paralympics GB at Birmingham University. Craig tried his hand at several sports and showed outstanding promise at wheelchair fencing.
After a mere three months training, Craig finished fifth at the National Championships in both the epee and foil disciplines of fencing.
Craig is now among the elite athletes at the British Disabled Fencing Association.
He has gone on to compete at international level in this year’s World Cup Series and recently returned from a World Cup event in Malaga, Spain. Craig is now hoping for a place in the Paralympics in 2012 - and to achieve this he needs funds for items such as equipment, training, competitions and support services.
Craig said: “I am delighted that First has offered to provide a significant portion of the money needed to help me look to reach London 2012. Having this fantastic donation from First will allow me to set my goals even higher and look to reach the sporting levels necessary to represent my country and even look to reach the medal podium.”
Derek Russell, a bus driver for First in Sheffield and a member of the regional charity committee, said: “First’s donation will give this inspirational young man the chance to fulfil his personal dream.”
Michelle Dent, South Yorkshire Disability Development Officer, said: “Gaining funds for elite athletes is never easy and the current economic situation makes this even more of a challenge. Therefore we are all grateful to First for providing this money and we would urge other would be sponsors to come forward and follow their charitable lead.”