Armaan Shahzad has been named Panathlon’s 2017/18 West Yorkshire Primary Outstanding Achiever after overcoming multiple disabilities and a lack of confidence to excel in the sporting arena.

The 11-year-old from Bradford has cerebral palsy and bilateral moderate hearing loss. He also suffers from recurrent febrile seizures which have caused him to be hospitalised on several occasions. The medication he takes to prevent them often leaves him feeling very lethargic.

These significant barriers initially made him a reluctant sportsman, but the support of teachers at Girlington Primary School and the spur of Panathlon competitions have given Armaan life-changing self-belief and confidence.

He beamed as he received his prize from Great Britain wheelchair racers Nathan Maguire and Louis Speight, who are both heading to Berlin in August to compete in the European Championships.

Armaan has represented Girlington in several Primary Panathlon competitions and our deaf boccia event in Doncaster, in which they achieved second place. Due to his outstanding performances, Armaan then represented Bradford at the West Yorkshire School Games Disability Sports Hall Athletics at Leeds Beckett University, competing against schools from across the county. He captained the team to a silver medal finish.

According to Girlington sports mentor Amanda Simpson, these competitions gave Armaan “the opportunity to experience sporting activities appropriate to his needs,” giving him “intrinsic motivation.”

Halifax006She added: “This has boosted Armaan’s confidence and self–esteem and he now excels in sport. He is constantly smiling and bursting with pride.”

Panathlon’s ‘ripple effect’ now sees Armaan attend a weekly local deaf club and participate in swimming, cycling and football clubs. He also attends an after-school sports club every Friday taking part in activities such as cricket, dodgeball, archery and tennis.

“Armaan is a shining example of a child who does not allow his physical and medical conditions to get in his way,” continued Mrs Simpson. “Through his enthusiasm, success and the enjoyment he exudes, he has become both a role model and ambassador by encouraging and motivating other pupils to become involved in sporting activities. Armaan has become empowered through the Primary Panathlon.”

Armaan’s West Yorkshire Outstanding Achievement prize, sponsored by Hays Travel, was presented to him at the Calderdale Panathlon in Halifax. (Click here for a full picture gallery from the event).

He attended with Claire Hussain, lead teacher of the deaf at Girlington Primary, as well as his mum Yasmin Shahzad and seven-year-old sister Amina (pictured above right).

Yasmin commented: “He used to step back a lot but now he loves joining in. Panathlon has been fantastic. Even though he’s got medical needs, coming here to Panathlon he can just be himself.

“It doesn’t matter what you look like or what disability you’ve got, you can always have a go, give it your all and achieve. He didn’t have that attitude before, but since he’s starting coming here and other sporting events, he’s really started to throw himself into it.”

Armaan says his favourite Panathlon disciplines are new age kurling, boccia and running, but most of all he “loves winning medals!” He said winning the Outstanding Achievement award made him “happy and proud”.

His teacher, Mrs Hussain, commented: “Armaan hasn’t always found sport easy because of his medical conditions but whenever he’s participated in Panathlon events he has always put in 100% and doesn’t let anything phase him. He’s shown what’s possible with determination and effort.”

Our thanks go to DM Thomas Foundation for Young People for their support in staging today’s Calderdale Primary Panathlon and to Hays Travel for supporting our West Yorkshire Outstanding Achievement awards.

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