Sleaford para-athletics pair to compete on the world stage for England

Wheelchair athlete Joel James has the 2020 Paralympics in his sights. EMN-171123-145326002
Wheelchair athlete Joel James has the 2020 Paralympics in his sights. EMN-171123-145326002

Athletes Joel James and Thomas Talbot will represent their country next summer on the global stage.

The St George’s Academy pupils, who both have cerebral palsy, have been called up by England for the CPISRA World Games in San Cugat, Spain next August.

Thomas Talbot.

Thomas Talbot.

Thomas competes as an international RaceRunner, a sport for athletes with cerebral palsy involving a three-wheeled trike with no pedals.

RaceRunners propel themselves forward using their legs while holding the handlebars, and the sport was recently inducted as a Paralympic discipline.

The 13-year-old, from Metheringham, took up the sport three years ago and has competed across the country in Cerebral Palsy Sport’s Athletics Series and other national events.

He is the current European Junior Cup champion for 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m, after a storming performance in Denmark last year.

But the new year began in the toughest possible way for Thomas who endured major hip reconstruction surgery to have a plate inserted into his right femur.

After 10 days in Sheffield Children’s Hospital, he then spent seven further weeks in plaster and had to learn to walk again.

But he vowed to return to RaceRunning, and almost eight months to the day of his surgery he completed a remarkable comeback by becoming the national under 16 champion at 100m, 200m, 400m, and 800m.

“I am so honoured to have been selected for the England team to compete at the Cerebral Palsy World Games in 2018,” Thomas said.

“I was too young to compete in 2015 when they were in Nottingham despite meeting all the Games standards.

“I’m so proud that I will be representing my country again at a world event and can’t wait to compete now, especially after all I have gone through with my hip surgery.

“I’m really looking forward to all the hard work to prepare for the World Games.”

Joel, meanwhile, took up wheelchair basketball in 2012 and tried other sports, but became hooked on wheelchair racing when he met London Paralympian Jamie Carter, and was invited to use his chair.

The 16-year-old, who now competes over various distances ranging from the 100m sprint to the three-mile mini marathon, made his race debut at the 2014 London Mini Marathon and later joined Coventry Godiva Athletics Club.

Earlier this year, the Sleaford athlete attended a training camp with reigning T54 world champion wheelchair racer, Marcel Hug, in Switzerland, and following the camp, made his international bow at the Swiss Junior championships as an invited athlete.

He has competed for the England North team at the School Games at Loughborough University for the last two years, and aims to use next year’s championships to help fuel his dream of competing at the 2020 Paralympics.