Great Britain Paralympian Anne Wafula Strike was at Braintree College this week to watch 100 disabled young people take part in the northern Essex semi-final of the prestigious 2012 Panathlon Challenge.

The line-up for the Essex final was completed as north-west Essex, represented by Southview School, and Tendring (Marketfield School) qualified. They will meet Thurrock (Beacon Hill School) and West Essex (Oak View School, Loughton) in the final at Basildon Sports Village on June 28.

Anne watched the children take part in six different sports, and awarded medals afterwards.

She said: “It’s great to see young people of different abilities competing and enjoying themselves so much. Panathlon provides an opportunity to enjoy sport and to meet new friends and have new experiences.

“Sport is for everybody – and it’s great to see young disabled people so fired up and raring to compete.I strongly believe sport is a universal language- that we can all speak, given the opportunity.”

Panathlon is funded in Essex by London Stansted Airport, Hilton Foundation, the Woodland Group and the Jack Petchey Foundation.

North-west Essex triumphed with 50 points after victory in the athletics races, Boccia and Polybat events, with Tendring runners-up after finishing with the same points tally but victory in two events, table cricket and field athletics. Harlow Fields were third with 40 points and Colchester (Lexden Springs School) fourth with 28.

Carol Park, team manager for Southview, said: “It’s fantastic to win and get to the Essex Panathlon final. We have never won the final before so we will be trying our utmost to do so this year. Our students absolutely love Panathlon.”