English Boy With Cerebral Palsy Bravely Crosses Finish Line In His First Triathlon
Posted by GreaterGoodness
A 100-meter swim, 4,000-meter bike ride and 1,300-meter run done back-to-back would be challenging for almost anyone. Now imagine trying to do it at the age of 8. To add one more difficulty, imagine completing this challenge with cerebral palsy, a neurological movement disorder that causes problems with posture, coordination and muscle tone.
Despite his age and cerebral palsy, Bailey Matthews of Doncaster in Nottinghamshire, England accomplished just that, completing the Castle Howard Triathlon in July 2015 to cheers from the crowd. Bailey threw away the walker he normally uses to cross the final finish line in the run.
Bailey’s mother, Julie Hardcastle, told People that it was hearing the cheers and admiration of the crowd that inspired him to cast his walker aside at the end of the run and finish the triathlon with a bit of flair. Bailey was inspired by his father, Jonathan Matthews, who is also a triathlete and who gave Bailey the running bug by pushing Bailey’s wheelchair ahead of him during local 5-kilometer races.
In the video of Bailey’s finish that went viral shortly after the race, the look on the boy’s face as he hears the roars of the crowd is not to be missed. Bailey’s parents admit to being overwhelmed by the incredible reaction of the crowd, hundreds of whom stayed long after the rest of the race had finished to cheer Bailey on. The triathlon announcer provided a running commentary as Bailey ran his race, calling out encouragement to him to make it to the finish line and pointing out to the crowd that Bailey is proof of what one can do with heart, soul and determination.
Because of Bailey’s cerebral palsy, he was allowed some help in completing the grueling 100-meter lake swim, and he rode the 4,000-meter bike ride on a special bike equipped with stabilizers. He was also permitted to use a specially designed walker to make it around the track for the 1,300-meter run, since it’s very difficult for him to walk unassisted.
Bailey, who was born nine weeks premature, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 18 months. Even getting dressed is a daily struggle for him, but Bailey is determined not to be different from other kids. Though he spends much of his life in a wheelchair, he decided he wanted to run a triathlon just like his dad, reports the Yorkshire Post. His parents, who try to help Bailey accomplish what he wants to do, set out to help make it happen. Bailey trained hard for his triathlon, setting his own swimming goals each day and working hard to meet them.
When Bailey, smiling from ear to ear, pushed aside his walker with 20 meters still to go, the crowd went crazy. Bailey struggled toward the finish line without help, falling to the ground. He got up, started forward, then fell again. With the announcer cheering him on and calling out, “You’re going to make it to the finish line, Bailey Matthews,” the boy persevered, crossing the finish line on his own, completely unassisted. Viewers, many of whom had tears in their eyes, spoke of the inspiration Bailey was to them, praising the young boy’s courage.
Bailey was met at the finish line by his father, beaming with understandable pride as he hoisted his son high and helped him raise his arm in victory. His mother speaks of Bailey’s determination, stating that her son finds a way to accomplish anything he really wants to do, despite the obstacles he faces.
Bailey may have been inspired by his father, but as news of his accomplishment spread, he himself has been an inspiration to many. Even though he finished the race in last place on the record books, Bailey Matthews is truly a champion.