Oxfordshire were crowned Central Southern England regional champions after edging out Wiltshire in an extremely tight finish at Stoke Mandeville Stadium on Thursday 7 March.
The county – represented by Fitzwaryn School pupils – finished level on 46 points with Wiltshire and were also tied on the number of wins (two) but finished in second place twice over Wiltshire’s one to claim victory. See full results here.
Charlie Breakspear, 13, was ecstatic with Oxfordshire’s success and admitted he will place his medal somewhere “very safe”.
“We are really happy to win,” said a beaming Charlie, who was competing at his eighth Panathlon. “We got to meet a Paralympian in Nathan Maguire who competed in Rio 2016 and to play with my friends and to meet new people is really fun.
“I’m going to put my medal somewhere very safe, so my little sister doesn’t get it!”
Charlie’s class teacher at Fitzwaryn, Bethany Jane, was thrilled with her school’s success and revealed their team have been practising whenever possible in the playground.
“Everyone has really enjoyed the day and it has been super-well organised. The children loved the sport and have really enjoyed the day,” said Bethany.
“They can’t wait to come back to school and show off at assembly and share their experience.
“One of our children has already told me that he will put his medal in his memory box – which is really sweet.”
The multi-sport event – which included boccia, kurling and table cricket – was contested between four counties and 80 children with Northamptonshire, who were represented by Corby Business Academy, finishing in third place on 40 points.
Competing in their home county, Buckinghamshire, finished in fourth place with two schools – Stony Dean and Egerton Rothesay.
Huda Alili, a speech and language therapist at Stony Dean School, believes Panathlon events have been instrumental in assisting her students with their communication.
“It’s a lot of fun and great to see them doing something that isn’t structured in the classroom. It’s great seeing them out and putting those communication and interaction skills into place with people they don’t know,” said a delighted Huda.
“They want to talk to other children and this is an environment where they can go talk to anybody. They are all wanting to communicate and interact and it’s really nice they can do that in a safe environment.
“This is my second Panathlon and the confidence they have when they come back from school and can show everyone else how well they have done is great. On top of that, their confidence in P.E. is much improved.”