International wheelchair racer Nathan Maguire has earned a place at the prestigious Michael Johnson Young Leaders programme in the USA – and has Panathlon to thank for the priceless opportunity. 

Nathan is a Panathlon Ambassador and attends many of our competitions to support and inspire our young competitors and present winners’ medals, trophies and certificates. 

He competed for Team GB in the Rio Paralympics and more recently won three bronze medals and a gold at the World Para Athletics European Championships in Berlin. 

Panathlon’s Chief Operating Officer, Tony Waymouth, nominated Nathan for a place on the prestigious Michael Johnson Young Leaders programme, which is run by the four-time Olympic gold medal-winning athlete. 

Nominations were received from applicants from across 34 countries and 21-year-old Nathan was one of only a handful selected. 

He will now travel to Dallas, Texas, in June to attend a cutting-edge, seven-day camp focusing on sport, education and community leadership. He will also benefit from a 12-month support package to help him achieve his goals in all three of those areas. 

“One of the things I’m most looking forward to is meeting and learning from the other participants from all over the world,” said Nathan. “It will give me so many invaluable tools to take forward and use not just as an athlete but in my studies and in life. It’s going to be really, really exciting. 

You’ve got to make sure you make the most of every opportunity in life because sport is so hit and miss. I could fall out of my race chair tomorrow, get injured and never be able to race again. Being able to go on this top-class camp, while I’m still at university doing my degree, will help make myself a well-rounded person. 

Nathan, who’s from Chester, is studying Sport Development at Liverpool John Moores University and has used Panathlon as a case study in his academic projects. 

Panathlon has given me an opportunity not just to meet young disabled children and help inspire them, but to learn an awful lot while I’m here too,” he commented. 

“I’d like to say a massive thank you to Tony. He’s already given me so many opportunities by inviting me to these Panathlon events. He doesn’t just give opportunities to kids with disabilities but adults as well. 

“When you leave school you don’t tend to get offered the same sorts of opportunities as you do as a school pupil. It’s great that he’s helping people like me be able to continue to develop within sport.” 

Tony himself said: “It’s great to be able to help a young man of Nathan’s calibre to benefit from such a prestigious leadership opportunity in Texas. 

Nathan has always been a trailblazer and we hope that these kinds of opportunities will further help his ability to change people’s views and thinking about disability access and inclusion. 

Nathan’s next big targets on the track are the Swiss Grand Prix in May and the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai in November. He will be using his four medals at last summer’s Europeans as inspiration. 

“Berlin was the first time I’d ever medalled as a senior athlete. It was the first time I felt like I belonged at that level. I arrived and thought to myself, ‘I’m here to win’.”