Boy with Cerebral Palsy Finishes Triathlon in Style
Bailey Matthews is eight years old and from Doncaster in England, and a couple of weekends ago, he completed his first triathlon.
This wonderful achievement becomes even more so when you consider that when Bailey was just a year-and-a-half old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. And he crossed the finish line all by himself.
Cerebral palsy, a general term for a few neurological conditions, affects one in 400 people in the UK and is caused by problems in the brain and nervous system which affects movement and coordination.
Bailey’s mum, Julia Hardcastle, said that while her son has always struggled with the day-to-day tasks that other parents take advantage of in their children, Bailey doesn’t let it bother him.
“He doesn’t see himself as different to anyone else,” she said. “We have always tried to make sure that if there is something he wants to do, there is no such word as ‘can’t’.”
And one of the things that Bailey wanted to do was be like his dad, Jonathan Matthews. Jonathan is an avid triathlete, who used to push his son in his wheelchair during running events. He’s even adapted Bailey’s walking frame so that he is able to participate in physical activities.
Bailey’s parents are keen to point out that participating in the triathlon was all Bailey’s idea, and that he even sets his own training goals. All they can do is make it as easy for him as possible.
The Castle Howard Triathlon is the fourth of six events that make up the Castle Triathlon Series. Each event takes place on the grounds of a different castle on a weekend between May and September.
The children’s triathlon at Castle Howard involves swimming 100 metres (328ft), cycling 4km (2.5 miles), and a 1.3km (0.8 miles) run to the finish line. The young competitors are also allowed one parent to help them, so, of course, Bailey’s dad was there by his side.
As they rounded the last corner, Bailey could see the hundreds of spectators waiting at the finish line, cheering him on. And with the end in sight, spurred on by the cheers, Bailey cast aside his walking frame and finished the race with nothing supporting him but his own two feet.
“That was his way of finishing in style,” his mum proudly said, “and showing everyone what he could do.”
“Bailey has always been very determined,” she explained. “If he wants to do something, he will find a way to do it, even if it’s not the conventional way.”
You can watch Bailey do his thing in the heartwarming video below, but you might want to have some tissues at the ready!