Thieves nick bike from disabled Sunderland sports star

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ATHLETE Eleni Papadopoulos, who was second in last year’s Paratriathlon World Championship, is appealing for callous thieves to return her cycle.

The specially adapted bike taken from the Aquatics Centre, in Manchester, where the 22-year-old is at university studying law.

Sunderland-born Eleni, who struggles to walk as she has cerebral palsy, appealed for the white and silver Scott Speedster to be returned.

She said: “It was my godsend. I’m devastated.

“That bike gave me my independence. I not only trained with it, I use it to get to university, do my food shopping; basically I use it for everything.

“I’m not a funded athlete and I can’t afford to replace it. I saved for years and worked so hard to get it.

“It has sentimental value to me too, as I won my first British Triathlon Championship on it, which meant I qualified for the World Championships,” she added.

Eleni, who trains 30 hours a week, locked the £1,500 bike outside the centre on Wednesday evening, because she was poorly and unable to cycle home.

But when she returned at 4.45am, the bike was missing and some other bicycle locks had been tampered with.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed it is making inquiries into the theft.

Eleni, who set a world record for 200m Butterfly in the S10 category, is a hopeful for the 2016 Rio Paralympics for both the triathlon and swimming.