An inspirational Worksop youngster who suffers from cerebral palsy has achieved worldwide fame after pushing away his walking support and crossing the line of his first ever triathlon unaided.
Eight-year-old Bailey Matthews was cheered over the finishing line by a crowd of hundreds after completing a 100 metre lake swim, 4,000 metre bike ride and 1,300 metre run as part of the Castle Howard Triathlon in North Yorkshire on Saturday July 25.
The determined little boy has since made appearances on Look North and Newsround, speaking about his achievements. Pictures of Bailey crossing the line have have also caused a sensation on Facebook, where they have been shared nearly 3,000 times and liked by more than 33,000 people across the globe.
His mother Julie Hardcastle told The Yorkshire Post: “You can see his little face when he came round and saw everyone, that was his way of finishing in style and showing everyone what he could do.
“It was the response from the crowd that pushed him to do that.”
Bailey was born 9 weeks early and diagnosed at 18 months old with a form of cerebral palsy, a neurological condition that affects movement and co-ordination, making every-day tasks much more difficult.
His journey to taking on one of the country’s most difficult triathlon courses started when his father Jonathan Matthews, himself a keen triathlete, started pushing him in a wheelchair round a five kilometre course at a weekly Park Run event in Clumber Park.
Jonathan told the Guardian: “At first, Bailey was content with being pushed around the course in the wheelchair. But as time went on he became more ambitious and wanted to complete the Park Run without it.
“We adapted his walking frame so that it could be used outdoors and the rest is history. He applied for the triathalon and the organisers said they were more than happy for him to compete.
“I am a practical person and even though I told Bailey we would find a way for him to reach his goals, I knew that the triathalon would be difficult for able-bodied child, let alone Bailey.
“After he crossed the finish line, I didn’t stop crying for about four days- not just because I was so incredibly proud, but because of the overwhelming response we’ve had from strangers across the country.”
Yvonne Turner, one of the race organisers, said: “It was an amazing sight. He contacted the race director and he made the arrangements for him to take part.
“His Dad helped him with the swim and he did the cycle section with the help of stabilisers. Race support people were with him throughout but when he got to the running section he kept trying to push his walker away.
“At the end he was so determined to finish unaided he shoved it away and set off alone. He fell initially but got up and crossed unaided.”