On Saturday July 25, eight year old Bailey Matthews completed the Castle Howard Triathlon in North Yorkshire, England. This was a big accomplishment for Bailey, who had to overcome many obstacles to do so.
Bailey, of Nottinghamshire, England, was born nine weeks premature and at 18 months old he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a neurological condition. The condition affects his motor skills, making movement and coordination difficult. However, this did not stop him from competing in the triathlon.
Bailey became interested in triathlons through his father, Jonathan Matthews, who is a triathlete. Matthews would participate in weekly, five kilometer racing events, pushing Bailey in a wheelchair. Bailey wanted to run, so his father created a walking frame to help him move through the course. Bailey then told his parents that he wanted to participate in a triathlon, and his parents responded with support.
“We have always tried to make sure that if there is something he wants to do. There is no such word as ‘can’t’,” said Julie Hardcastle, Bailey’s mother.
Bailey began training for the event, and it was through these training sessions that Bailey showed his self-motivation, explains his father.
“The majority of what he does is self-propelled. He sets his own goals when he is swimming and says ‘I am going to do x amount of metres today’. He is more than eager to get out and do something. If we can make that easier for him then that is what we will do,” Matthews said.
On the day of the triathlon, Bailey was prepared for the challenge. The event consists of a 100 meter lake swim, 4,000 meter bike ride, and 1,300 meter run. One parent is allowed to help their child during the race so Bailey’s father went along.
Bailey completed the race unaided. Towards the end, Bailey left his walking aid behind and ran the last 20 meters of the race on his own two legs with hundreds of spectators cheering him on.
“That was his way of finishing in style and showing everyone what he could do. It was the response from the crowd that pushed him to do that,” said Hardcastle.