In recent years there has been a huge increase in the visibility and reputation of disability sports. Big icons such as Scottish wheelchair tennis star, Gordon Reid, and Team GB Paralympic athlete David Weir have helped increase the profile of disabled sportspeople, while at a local level this year’s Perth & Kinross Disability Sports Person of the Year – Ben Leitch – continues to shine on the basketball court.
And a young lad from Luncarty is following in the footsteps of the above mentioned athletes. 12-year-old Matthew Doig, who is a pupil at Perth Grammar School, has symptoms relating to cerebral palsy which affects his balance and posture.
He takes part in the sport of ‘racerunning’ – an athletic discipline for disabled athletes where a running bike is used with a three-wheeled frame and a saddle for body support, but importantly it has no peddles.
The sport is popular throughout the world and Matthew has been taking part in racerunning since he was six-years-old and trains with local athletics club Perth Strathtay Harriers. Matthew’s dad, Graeme, explained how his son became involved in the sport.
“We found out about racerunning from friends of ours,” Graeme said, “and there was an open day at Grangemouth Athletics Stadium where anyone with a physical disability was welcome to try out the sport.
“We went along and found that Matthew took instant enjoyment to this and it was also apparent that he was quite fast and did very well against the other athletes. We went along and found that Matthew took instant enjoyment to this and it was also apparent that he was quite fast.
“That led us to contact Jim Hunter at Perth Strathtay Harriers to see if the club could help Matthew to participate in this sport in the local area. Jim couldn’t have been any more helpful and supportive with this and before we knew it, Matthew had his own racerunning bike and was training once a week and absolutely loving it.
“The club has been amazing in growing Matthew’s strength, co-ordination and confidence. The bike itself is designed to work muscles and strengthen his body in ways he doesn’t get in day-to-day life. Jim has been so influential in Matthew’s success and has motivated him to progress and compete at local, national and international events.”
On the 8th of July, Matthew will be competing in Denmark for the third time in an international event which he has enjoyed previous success. He’s the only Scottish athlete going to Copenhagen this year, having missed out through injury in 2017, and he’s excited to be back involved on the international stage.
“I want to do well,” Matthew said, “and I want to get after my personal best times. I know the competition will be harder this year as even more countries from across the world are taking part now that racerunning has been recognised as a World Para Athletics event.
“I’ll also be competing in the U14 age category for the first time. I feel very proud to be representing Scotland again.
“I have been going to competitions since I was seven-years-old in Glasgow, Grangemouth and Perth and have won gold medals at each event for the 60m, 100m, 200m and 400m at club and national events.
“In 2015, I went to Copenhagen at nine-years-old to compete in the International Cup – where over 200 athletes from across the world took part. I enjoyed meeting other racerunning athletes and I was proud to be part of the Scotland team.
“I won five gold medals in the junior U12 RR3 category, in the 40m, 60m, 100m, 200m and 400m; and I achieved four personal bests too. I really enjoyed having my family there to share that experience with me. My mum and dad, my brother Nathan, and both sets of grandparents made the journey with me. I won five gold medals and I achieved four personal bests. I really enjoyed having my family there to share that experience with me.
“In 2016, I went back to Copenhagen to compete, this time with a bigger Scotland and England squad and I really enjoyed my time with them. I won six gold medals this time and took part in my first 800m race.
“Gavin Drysdale – who is the Scottish and World Champion in his age group – really helped me with my tactics for the longer race and it worked perfectly. I was so happy to cross the finish line first!”
Delighted dad Graeme added: “As parents, Laura and I are extremely proud of Matthew and all of his achievements within and out with racerunning.
“His determination and willingness to learn and better himself has seen huge improvements every year since he started.
“I remember watching Matthew go round the track in just under five minutes the first time we timed him. At a competition in Glasgow last week, he whizzed round in just one minute, thirty-four-seconds!
“This is a great testament to all of the hard-work he puts in to his training, even in the sometimes challenging Scottish weather conditions!”
After Copenhagen, Matthew will have to miss out the CPISRA World Games in Barcelona as he is not yet old enough to compete. However, he has his sights set on more competitions in Scotland and England in the coming weeks, and will shortly head back down south of the border to compete on the English Grand Prix circuit.
For more information on racerunning, you can visit the sport’s main website here.
Matthew is a member of Perth Strathtay Harriers which is a volunteer-led athletics club in Perthshire. Read our previous article on the club to find out more.
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