Paralympian Louise Sugden visits school as Newham crowned winner of disability sports
- Credit: Andrew Fosker / Seconds Left Ima
Langdon School is the closest Paralympian Louise Sugden has got to the Olympic Park since the heady days of last summer’s Paralympic Games.
The co-captain of Team GB’s wheelchair basketball team at London 2012 admitted to feeling a little emotional being back near the scene of that “once-in-a-lifetime experience” as she visited the school in East Ham.
She was at the East London Finals of the Panathlon Challenge - a ‘mini-Paralympics’ for grassroots athletes -in an ambassadorial role for the charity Panathlon which helps provide competitive sport to over 3,000 disabled children each year.
The event saw fierce competition across a range of sports, including long jump, wheel chair racing and table cricket, and saw Newham crowned overall East London Champions and reach the London Final on June 19.
Having experienced PE lessons in her wheelchair surrounded by able-bodied children while at school herself, the 28-year-old Paralympian knows the importance of inclusive sport for young disabled people.
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“You can get disheartened if you’re playing against people who are running around and you’re not doing very well.
“The fact that these kids are all playing on a level playing field is so crucial, because it helps them realise what they can do,” Louise said.
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This year Panathlon will invest more than £250,000 in sports equipment and coaching funds across London and the south-east and will help provide 15,000 active hours of sport to disabled children.
John Lewis Stratford City donated £33,000 to Panathlon using funds raised during London 2012 by charging customers to access a viewing gallery on its third floor. The store raised a total of £130,000 which it split between four local charities selected by its staff.