In a really close contest in the first round of the 2011 Panathlon Challenge competition, held at St. Paul’s Academy in Greenwich on Monday 14 February, the team from Bexley recorded a narrow triumph over their neighbours from Greenwich.

Only 2 points separated the two teams after a day of sporting contest in a range of sports, Bexley emerging triumphant by virtue of their consistency across all the events. They now go through to the South and East London area final on 15 March in competition with teams from Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Newham. Greenwich and Lewisham will have to try again in 2012.

Extra funding from the Mayor of London has enabled both Bexley and Lewisham to participate in Panathlon for the first time this year. This has included extra funding for adapted sports equipment and coaching funds to prepare the teams for today’s competition. Special congratulations to Bexley for grabbing the opportunity and winning through to their area final.

30 London boroughs are participating in January and February, to determine who goes ahead to the 5 area finals in March. At the end of those Finals, 5 teams will emerge to compete for the ultimate prize in June; the London Panathlon Challenge Champions 2011.

The Mayor of London, through his Sports Legacy Fund, is supporting Panathlon with £86,000 in 2011 and the same amount next year. This means that in the three years in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, he will have invested £255,000 in developing grass roots disability sport in London, through Panathlon. Boris Johnson said, ‘ The Panathlon Challenge is a fantastic competition. It is about taking part, aspiration and achievement, three of the best motivators for young people.”

The Panathlon Challenge is now in its tenth successful year of delivering sporting opportunities and “mini-paralympic” type competitions for young disabled Londoners. Around 100 athletes aged between 8 and 18, (30 to 35 each from the boroughs involved), will compete against each other in the sports of Boccia, New Age Kurling, Polybat, Football, Table Cricket and Athletics

Trudy Kilcullen , Chief Operations Officer for The Jack Petchey Foundation, which is investing £50,000 in Panathlon in London and Essex in 2011, said. “ We believe that all young people should have the opportunity to achieve their potential. Panathlon is the only organisation that enables young disabled people to participate fully in competitive sports designed to suit their needs. We fully support their work and look forward to seeing even more disabled young people becoming coaches and sports leaders in the future.”

Danny Crates, Paralympic Champion and Panathlon charity patron said: “ Panathlon is a fantastic opportunity for young disabled Londoners to take part in sporting competition and I wish them well in their search for medals Good luck to everyone competing !”