Special deeds by our Special Needs

Karim Chan won three gold medals at the East Region Disability Championships.
Karim Chan won three gold medals at the East Region Disability Championships.

Three local lads who suffer from autism have made headline news with their sporting performances.

Athletes Karim Chan and Brandon Ballard have done well on the running track while Calum Titmus has excelled on the ice.

Calum Titmus with two gold medals he won last month in Glasgow.

Calum Titmus with two gold medals he won last month in Glasgow.

Karim, a 15 year-old pupil at Marshfields School, is no stranger to success. Last year he was the star performer at the East Region Disabilty Championships and went on to win a gold medal at the National Championships.

And he’s treading a similar path in 2016.

Earlier this month he was once again a triple gold medallist at the regional championships, winning the 100m in 12.14, the 200m in 25.05 and the long jump with 5.55m.

And that means another bid for national glory at the national finals at Warwick University in July.

Brandon Ballard pictured with coach Abi Schofield.

Brandon Ballard pictured with coach Abi Schofield.

Karim has autism spectrum disorder and first took up athletics when he joined the Nene Valley Harriers special needs club in 2013.

He now competes for Peterborough AC and is classified as a T20/F20 athlete. And he is ranked first in the 2016 UK Under 17 long jump standings and fourth in the 100m.

Brandon Ballard has been running competitively for two years and in the latest Eastern Young Athletes League match at the Embankment he earned his first win.

The 12 year-old City of Peterborough Academy Special School pupil was running in an Under 13 800m race and took the honours for Nene Valley Harriers in 2.36.00, smashing his personal best by nine seconds.

The win came after a ‘near-miss’ in the Peterborough Park Run in April in which he was second in the 11-14 age group. Earlier in the year he ran in the county cross-country championships and was placed 15th.

His proud teacher and coach Abi Schofield said: “Brandon is a wonderful example of how special needs children can excel in mainstream sport.

“He works really hard, trains every day and there are never any behavioural problems with him.

“Brandon has autism, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and tourettes and has a fantastic talent.”

Calum Titmus from Great Gidding is 22 years-old and is autistic, with epilepsy and severe learning difficulties.

For the last three years he has been competing - and starring - in Special Olympics skating competitions.

He was won 11 gold medals in national and international events and was last week celebrating the news that he had been included in the 21-strong Special Olympics GB team to compete at the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria in March.

He will take part in the figure skating although he also regularly wins international ice dance and speedskating competitions.

He has also won national Special Olympics Swimming medals. He represented the East Region in the National Special Olympics Games in Bath last August as a swim mer and won a gold and silver medal.

Calum attends Huntingdon Regional College and trains twice a week at Planet Ice in Peterborough. He also trains at the gyms in the One Leisure group and with the Piranhas Swimming Club in Huntingdon as well as the Peterborough Special Olympics Swimming Club (SOGS).