Helpston chairman was a centimetre away from the Rio Paralympics

Helpson Harriers chairman Thomas Musson has a fascinating back-story having been cruelly robbed of an opportunity to run for GB in the 2016 Paralympics,
Thomas Musson finishes the London Marathon.Thomas Musson finishes the London Marathon.
Thomas Musson finishes the London Marathon.

The story began on April 26, 2014 when Musson. then a Werrington Jogger, first laced up a pair of running shoes as he unsuccessfully attempted to finish ahead of a friend in the Peterborough Parkrun.

After just over two years of astonishing improvement the 36 year old, who was born with his right arm missing below the elbow, had flirted with the Paralympics.

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“I’d hated running when I was younger, but I grew to love it.” said Musson. “I only took it up because of a bet with a friend, but before I could do anything about it I was hooked.

“Having made great progress a friend joked that I should run in the Paralympics and I thought why not? I had improved to the extent that I thought the Marathon qualification time of two hours 50 minutes was attainable.

“I attended a T46 assessment day in Manchester where the details of a rule change, introduced after London 2012 as a result of scientific research, were explained to me.”

Musson’s test in Manchester proved inconclusive, and in January 2015 he travelled to Preston for more detailed checks, where to his horror he found that his right arm was a fraction too long for him to be eligible.

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Though disappointed Musson took things in his stride. He racalled: “The new rules stipulated that my right arm had to be shorter than my left arm from shoulder to elbow.

“But mine was one centimetre too long!

“It was a big blow at the time, and the margins were tiny, but I realised that they have to draw the line somewhere.

“I’d loved running before my Rio dream, and decided that this blow wouldn’t stop me finding how far running could take me.”

Boasting a marathon personal best of two hours 39 minutes, running has taken him further in levels of achievement, personal satisfaction and distance travelled than he could ever have dreamt.”

The Rio Paralympic gold medal was won in 2.33.35 by LI Chaoyan of China, just six minutes faster than Musson’s best.