Partially sighted athletes go for gold

(From left to right) Brothers Coby, Lucas and Bailey Ashman compete in the sprint at the Boots Opticians Actionnaires Athletics Day in Sheffield
(From left to right) Brothers Coby, Lucas and Bailey Ashman compete in the sprint at the Boots Opticians Actionnaires Athletics Day in Sheffield
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More than 150 blind and partially sighted children took to the track in Sheffield for the country’s biggest athletics event of its kind.

Youngsters aged between four and 16 competed at the English Institute of Sport in the Boots Opticians Actionnaires Athletics Day.

The budding athletes were all members of Actionnaires clubs run by Action for Blind People.

Representing towns and cities from across the north of England and the Midlands, the children took part in a variety of track and field activities including long jump, javelin and sprint events.

Lesley Inganni, development manager at Action for Blind People, said: “The children get so excited about this event, as many don’t get to participate in sport at all outside of their local Actionnaires clubs.

“It’s an opportunity to sample a range of sports for the first time, helping them to understand that sight loss isn’t a barrier to fun, competitions and social activities.

“This is the seventh year that the event has taken place. Every year it gets bigger and better, and with co-ordinators from British Athletics attending, some of these children could be our Paralympians of the future.”

Among those getting involved were the Ashman family from Gleadless – dad Adrian with Coby, aged seven, Lucas, 12, and Bailey, 14, all members of Sheffield Actionnaires.

The club is based at Westfield School where Adrian works as a volunteer.

He said: “I’ve seen the confidence of Coby, Lucas and Bailey and many of the other Actionnaires grow dramatically.

“The activities the club provides help them feel part of things. The extra support given boosts the children’s confidence and self-belief. It proves they can do just as much as their sighted friends.”

Bailey, who with his brother Lucas goes to Tapton School, said: “I had a great time. Last year’s Paralympic Games have made me want to do even more sport.

“I’ve met lots of other children today. Making friends and doing new things is what I love about Actionnaires and this event is the highlight of the year.”