A TEENAGER with Spina Bifida who trains alongside six-time Paralympic gold medalist David Weir has spoken of his joy at being selected to compete at the Commonwealth Games.
Will Smith, who has raced for more than ten years after being spotted while a pupil at Brompton Primary School, near Northallerton, said he had been surprised to be asked to join the England squad for the event in Glasgow as he has never competed at a major championships previously.
The 18-year-old will compete in the 1500m T54, which Weir will also challenge for.
Will, who has moved from Northallerton to Norfolk, said it was helpful having Weir around for advice, despite their rivalry.
Will said: "The Commonwealth Games was an outside target for me this season.
"The games are a big spectacle and something I have always watched so it's going to be great to be part of it.
"There’ll be big crowds which is something I am really looking forward to.
"I'm hoping to make it through to the final, that is my main aim.”
He said his athletics career started ten years ago when he was approached at the Great North Run junior wheelchair race by GetKidsGoing, a charity which helps disabled young athletes.
Weir's coach Jenny Archer took on Will in 2009 after spotting his potential at a training day in Leeds and within two years he had collected four gold medals and one silver medal at the World Junior Games.
His selection follows appearances in senior competitions, including the Diamond League in Birmingham and the London Anniversary Games against elite senior athletes.
Will's father, a former Northallerton Rugby Club player, will act as his second coach at the games.
He will compete in the heats on Tuesday, July 29 and aims to be in the final two days later.