Matt moves toward Olympic dream

AN INSPIRATIONAL teenager has his sights set firmly on the 2012 Olympics today after striking gold in a national junior competition.

AN INSPIRATIONAL teenager has his sights set firmly on the 2012 Olympics today after striking gold in a national junior competition.

Amazing Matt Baker shot to stardom after beating hundreds of other young people to take the top gong in archery at the Norwich Union National Junior Games at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games.

The Copleston High School pupil, who has cerebral palsy and requires a wheelchair or crutches to get around, finished with 160 points, an impressive 49 points ahead of his nearest challenger.

The popular 14-year-old's natural ability and huge potential was spotted during the four-day games and he has been invited to hone his skills under the watchful eye of a team of experts at a special Paralympic training camp.

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And Matt hopes to go even further by representing his country when the Olympics come to London in six years' time.

He said: “It was an exciting experience and I would love to go back again next year. There wasn't one person who didn't have a smile on their face.

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“I thought I had a chance of winning but it was still a shock.

“I would love to really get involved and try for the Olympics.”

The Stoke Mandeville games have traditionally been a breeding ground for stars in the making, most notably Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, who is Great Britain's most successful wheelchair athlete.

During his stay in the Olympic Lodge, Matt was introduced to Paralympic basketball bronze medal winner and BBC broadcaster Ade Adepitan MBE.

Ian Page, Copleston's assistant headteacher and director of specialism and learning, said enquiries were already being made with a view of helping Matt achieve his Olympic dream.

He continued: “His coach at Gipping Valley Archers thinks he has huge potential and Team Ipswich are looking at taking Matt's ability further.

“He is a fantastic young man. He has every reason to not get involved but he does. He is such a shining example to others and we are very proud of him.”

Matt is currently looking for sponsorship to enable him to continue competing at the top. Any individuals or businesses who would like to offer their support should contact Ian Page at Copleston High School on 01473 710951.

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