Visually-impaired schoolgirl goes for gold in athletics event

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A visually-impaired youngster has proved that disability is no barrier to going for gold.

Hannah Ritchie, seven, from Sunderland, raced to glory at the UK’s biggest athletics event for blind children.

The schoolgirl, who has limbal stem cell failure of the eye and is partially sighted, was one of 100 visually-impaired youngsters who took part in this year’s Boots Opticians Actionnaires Athletics Day, at the prestigious English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

Hannah, who took part in sprinting, long jump and the javelin, said: “It was great because I came first in two races and second in another. I’m looking forward to coming again next year.”

The event, now in its ninth year, brings together blind and partially-sighted children to take part in a range of track and field events, which one day could help them launch a career as a Paralympic athlete.

Lesley Inganni, operations manager at Action for Blind People, said: “The day is a fantastic way of bringing children together through a range of sports which might not be available to them elsewhere.

“The event teaches the children that their sight loss is no barrier to achieving their goals, at the same time improving their social skills, by encouraging them to mix and make new friends.”

Ben Fletcher, managing director of Boots Opticians, who sponsor the event, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this fantastic event.

“Supporting young people is really important to us, so it is a real privilege to be a part of providing these inspirational children with the chance to enjoy the excitement of sport, which so many of us take for granted.”