Belfast Telegraph

London Marathon: Belfast teenager Jack Agnew wins Mini Wheelchair Marathon

By Linda Stewart

Belfast teenager Jack Agnew was still buzzing last night after winning the young people's mini wheelchair race in the London Marathon.

The 14-year-old Belfast Royal Academy student made such good time that he stormed across the finish line before his dad Jim could get there by car to witness his triumph.

"It was brilliant – I'm absolutely buzzing," the Ballygomartin teenager told the Belfast Telegraph after receiving his trophy from Olympian Tom Daly.

"I was trying to keep up with the under-17s and I did beat a few of them, and I beat everyone out of my age group. It was absolutely amazing. People were cheering me on – it was really good."

Jack only started wheelchair racing in May last year at the Mary Peters track in Belfast, and has already racked up a series of successes, winning 100m and 200m in the first ever wheelchair races in Uster Schools Track & Field Championships and becoming IWA Sport 100m Junior Champion in Dublin last July.

But he has been playing wheelchair basketball since he was six. He plays for the NI Knights Wheelchair Basketball and has represented Northern Ireland at junior level since 2007. Jack, who was born with spina bifida, said it was tough for him as a youngster, as he was bullied in primary school. "But I was always brought up like there was nothing really wrong with me," he said.

"The bullying wasn't too bad, but it gave me a drive to prove them wrong."

His dad, Jim, said Jack had suffered a few knock-backs down the years, but had really taken to wheelchair racing.

"He's very, very committed. The amount of training that he does for a kid of his age is amazing; almost the same as an adult. It's the amount of training and hours that he puts in, and the dedication," he said.

"Being able to compete in wheelchair sport is fantastic. It's all he's ever known, competing in sport at a high level."

But he admits he missed out on seeing Jack cross the finish line on the Mall in the London Marathon, as he completed the three-mile race faster than expected. "I had to get a lift from another parent. I left and headed down to the finish line, but by the time I got there he was finished!" he said.

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FACTFILE

Jack made history at the Ulster Schools Track & Field Championship at the Antrim Forum last year, when he won 100m and 200m in the first ever Ulster Schools Wheelchair Racing events. If you are interested in getting involved in Wheelchair Racing or disability athletics, contact Athletics NI Coach, Heather Ardis, Tel: 07841 804 033 email; heather@athleticsni.org

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