The proud dad of a Worksop boy who stole the show at the Sports Personality of the Year Awards after claiming the Helen Rollason prize has described it as a “massive emotional moment” which caps an “amazing” six months.
Bailey Matthews, who has cerebral palsy, marched on stage to collect the surprise accolade in front of 8,000 people in Belfast on Sunday night.
The Helen Rollason Award, which is named after the late BBC television presenter who died from cancer in 1999, is presented for “outstanding achievement in the face of adversity”.
Bailey’s dad Jonathan said: “He did not find out about it until his name was called out. He just thought we had been invited to go and watch.
“Before he went up for the award, he had just been sleeping and playing on Minecraft on my phone.”
A video of the nine-year-old completing his first ever triathlon went viral in July after he crossed the finishing line without his walking aid.
It has since been viewed more than 80 million times.
The youngster received rapturous applause and a standing ovation as he was handed the trophy by presenter Clare Balding and former Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington at the SSE Arena.
And Bailey showed no nerves as he grabbed the microphone and said: “You can stop cheering now.”
When asked what he thought of his achievement, he said: “It’s just what I do.”
The annual ceremony, which celebrates the biggest sporting achievements from the last 12 months, was attended by a host of stars, including Andy Murray, who won the overall prize, and Jessica Ennis-Hill who came third.
Jonathan added: “It was quite surreal. He got the biggest cheer of the night. The stars were wanting to have photos with Bailey.
“It has been an amazing six months.”
Since Bailey’s rise to fame, his family have been inundated with messages of support from people all over the world.
“Facebook has not stopped,” Jonathan said.
“We have had letters from people older than Bailey who have been inspired by him.
“Bailey doesn’t fully understand the enormity of it all. He has got so much media attention for something he does day-to-day. Bailey, who also has an older brother, Finlay, who is a talented gymnast, now plans to complete five more triathlons in 2016.
“I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported him,” Jonathan said.
“His uncle John is a massive part of his life and gives him 100 per cent attention.
“He is one of his heroes.”