Search for future stars of sports field

Budding paralympians taking part in the Playground to Podium event at  East Durham College, Peterlee, on Thursday. Events included football, basketball, boccia and table tennis.
Budding paralympians taking part in the Playground to Podium event at East Durham College, Peterlee, on Thursday. Events included football, basketball, boccia and table tennis.
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POTENTIAL Paralympians were given a chance to show off their sports skills to the experts.

Young people from across County Durham were invited to join in the event, which was packed with taster sessions, at East Durham College, in Peterlee.

The competitors, including pupils from Shotton Hall School and Durham’s Trinity School, tried out wheelchair basketball, target ball game boccia, table tennis and football. Representatives from national governing bodies were on hand to spot potential talent.

Nearly 40 youngsters, with a range of conditions and disabilities from hearing impairments to learning difficulties, took part in the day.

The County Athlete Assessment Day formed part of the national Playground to Podium programme.

It is led by Sport England in partnership with the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS), the Youth Sport Trust (YST) and Paralympics GB, which helps to create a pathway from school sport through to club participation and on to elite events.

Wheelchair tennis silver medallist Mark Eccleston, who won his medal at the Athens Paralympics in 2004, was there to inspire the youngsters by discussing his experiences.

Paralympic hopeful Lyndon Longhorne, from Crook, who lost both his legs and an arm to meningitis when he was a baby, was also there to take part in a question-and-answer session.

Ben Williams, executive director of County Durham Sport, said: “The Playground to Podium scheme is a great opportunity for young disabled people from across County Durham to show their talent.

“Hopefully we’ll be spotting some of the talent here in future Paralympic Games.”

Lindsey Robinson, FA Women, Girls and Disability Football development officer, said: “The scheme continues to give us opportunities to see pupils from County Durham who could potentially follow the Playground to Podium pathway.

“Lyndon is a great example of what young people from the area can achieve at the highest level.”

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham