This year’s Panathlon Jack Petchey Awards Ceremony takes place on November 15 at John Lewis Stratford in London, and will feature the prestigious Jack Petchey Outstanding Achievement Award. Here, we take a look Tony Chaney, one of this year’s nominees for the top prize.

Tony Chaney has been nominated for Panathlon’s top individual honour in the London and Essex area – the Jack Petchey Outstanding Achievement award – for his sporting excellence and determination. 

Tony, 13, has sensory processing difficulties, ASD and autism, and during his early education he was only able to attend school for one hour a day, having been excluded, meaning no time at all for physical education. 

After a number of appeals, Tony was accepted at Doucecroft School in 2013, when he started his Panathlon journey. 

When Tony first joined Doucecroft, he didn’t have a great deal of confidence and found joining in activities difficult, as any change to his daily timetable was stressful.  

Tony would try to take part in PE activities, but would need a great deal of encouragement and support.  

He found rules difficult to understand and would need continual verbal prompts to take part meaningfully in sporting activities.  

When in a team situation, he would often stand and watch, but was unable to participate, as he was overwhelmed by it. 

However, over time the school worked with Tony to improve this by playing basic games and doing a great deal of balancing activities.  

Andrea Griffiths, a teacher at Doucecroft School, said: “When we first got involved in Panathlon, Tony was the first name the school put forward to participate in the event.  

“When Tony was asked how he would feel about attending a Panathlon event, he was worried and said he would let his team down if he did not achieve in the events.” 

Tony did agree to attend the event, though, and with the support of staff and his visual timetable, Tony had a fantastic time and was so happy when he won a medal. 

Tony has since played a key role in all the Panathlon events that Doucecroft have attended, especially the Panathlon Swimming Gala, which was an important one for him. 

Andrea added: “Tony has helped the school win medals and trophies, and has gained a lot from being part of the Panathlon team, meaning his self-esteem and confidence have grown, not just around sport, but in everyday activities. 

“Tony can now take part in both solo and team sports. He encourages his team-mates and can take an active and valued part in games, so much so he is now part of the school football team. 

“This has been in no small part down to his involvement in Panathlon events, which have shown him he can succeed and that his efforts are valued and appreciated. He is still polite, helpful and kind, but he is also confident, independent and believes in himself enough to always give something a go.” 

Tony is in the running to succeed last year’s winner – Colchester teenager Ethan-Beau Howes – as winner of the 2017 Jack Petchey Outstanding Achievement Award.  

Ethan-Beau was the eighth winner of the annual award, which celebrates some of the most inspirational individuals to compete in London and Essex Panathlon events each year. 

This year’s Panathlon Jack Petchey Awards Ceremony takes place on November 15 at John Lewis Stratford in London.