MORE than 50 children with disabilities and special needs represented their schools in the first ever Panathlon sporting competition in Wales in Llandrillo.

Last week seven teams from five different schools took part in a series of specially adapted sports such as table cricket and new age kurling at Coleg Llandrillo. New age kurling is a form of the original curling game, but adapted so that it can be played indoors on any smooth, flat surface

The Panathlon comprises a series of team challenges to develop sporting skills in five to 11 year olds with a range of special educational needs.

Ysgol Pendalar came out on top, ahead of Hafod Lon Gwynedd, whose two teams picked up silver and bronze medals.

Panathlon is the charity that gives more than 17,500 disabled young people every year the opportunity to engage in competitive sport that they are so often otherwise denied.

Schools across England have competed in Panathlon’s inclusive competitions in England since its inception in 1995, and last week, for the first time, it expanded across the border.

Iola Jones, teacher of the victorious Ysgol Pendalar team, said: “What a great event, the children couldn’t wait to represent their school today, and to win was icing on the cake.”

The trophies and medals were presented by special guest Andrew Williams, captain of the RGC North Wales rugby team, with trained young leaders from Llandrillo College helping the young children and officiating in the games.

Rebecca Roberts, teacher from Ysgol Pen Coch, said: “My children haven’t seen these games before. They thoroughly enjoyed all of them, especially the ten-pin bowling and table cricket. The children have been so focused and engaged all day.”

Ray, a pupil at Ysgol Gogarth, said: “There are lots of different games to play that we had never seen before. It was amazing to compete against other schools.”

One of the Llandrillo College Young Leaders, Thomas Williams, reflected: “I have seen so many children totally involved. They have been far more competitive than I ever thought they would be. This has been a great experience for us as we also have never seen these sports on display.”

Panathlon chief operating officer, Tony Waymouth, said: “It is great to start in Wales. This is a momentous day for the charity, our first day ever benefitting children with disabilities and special needs outside of England. It was great to see so many children representing their schools for the first time.”