The Final of the London Panathlon is nearly upon us ! After 6 months of training and competition, clocking up 10,000 active hours of participation by over 1,000 disabled yonng people – we are down to the Final 5 teams who compete on June 16th, to see who will be crowned Panathlon Champions 2011.

The 5 finalists are – Lambeth, Harrow, Haringey, Croydon and Newham. Each team won through 2 qualifying events earlier in the year, and now face this final hurdle to become All London Panathlon champions 2011. And to add spice to the occasion all the finalists have been there before! However, the only previous winners are Croydon who had a double success in 2005 and 2006. So, plenty of incentives for every team to go for the big win this year and surely a real cocktail for top sporting competition!

200+ athletes with severe learning difficulties and/or physical impairments, aged between 8 and 18, will compete in the sports of Boccia, New Age Kurling, Football, Polybat, Table Cricket and Athletics for the honour of being crowned Panathlon Champions 2011.

Helen Turner, GB Gold Medallist from last months Paralympic World Cup in Manchester in Wheelchair Basketball, will be attending the event to encourage the competitors and award medals.

The Mayor of London, through the Sports Legacy Plan, is supporting Panathlon with £86,000 in 2011 and the same amount next year. This will mean 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. This year around 1,000 participants have been involved.

There will also be a mini-competition of Powerchair Football for severely disabled young people in a ground breaking project with the Wheelchair Football Association and Brentford FC Community Trust. Panathlon supported by the Football Foundation, have created five Powerchair Football clubs in London supported with specialist equipment and coaching.

Additionally there will be a demonstration game by visually impaired footballlers. Panathlon has been granted the Inspire Mark, the official badge of the London 2012 Inspire Programme for this work.

Panathlon’s work in creating football opportunities over the next two years for visually impaired footballers is one example of inspiration fired by the 2012 Paralympics. Panathlon plans to follow its successful model in developing Powerchair football, and create 5 clubs across London with coaching and competitive opportunities for visually impaired footballers.

Sainsbury’s are kindly supplying Goody Bags from the Ladbrooke Grove store for all 200 competitors.

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.”

Paul Thorogood , Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Panathlon does outstanding work in opening up a wide range of sports to our capital’s d isabled young people. The Football Foundation’s funding has enabled Panathlon to provide football for around 500 footballers with severe learning difficulties and 50 Powerchair footballers from five newly created Panathlon clubs across London this year.”

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.”