London’s Aidan Linton-Smith will be flying the flag for the Home Counties North region and going for gold in Leicester, when he competes in the British Polio Fellowship National Indoor Games at the Leicester Marriott Hotel (22-24 March). Representing the Home Counties at Boccia, Aidan will take his place in the squad, competing with around 140 members of The British Polio Fellowship who have made it through to the finals in a range of disciplines from around the regions.
Having been unfortunate enough to contract Polio as an infant when just a few months old, Aidan has lived with the condition all his life and has not let it get the way of living a very successful life, both on the work front and in the sporting arena. The Leicester Games follows on from Aidan’s starring role in last year’s Paralympic games, where he was a Gamesmaker in the sport of Boccia and he is the current British Polio Fellowship reigning champion in the sport – a title he has held on six previous occasions and one he is very much hoping to retain at this year’s National Indoor Games.Anyone in the Home Counties who may have been affected by the impact of Polio or PPS, either individually or indirectly through friends and family can call The British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935. Having qualified from their regional heats in one of the 9 regions of the country, comprising East Midlands; Scotland; Home Counties; North of England; North West; South of England; Wales; Western; and Yorkshire, participants will compete for a range of medals. 10 individual games will be played: Kurling; Bowls; Darts (standing); Darts (sitting); Boccia; Draughts; Cribbage; Dominoes; 5s and 3s; and Scrabble, with medals up for grabs in all categories and competition extremely fierce.
“I had a wonderful time taking part in the Paralympic Games,” explained Aidan. “Boccia is the only sport we do that is similar to the Paralympics, although it is played by different rules and has to be smaller of course to fit into the room! I have taken part in the games since the beginning, including as a youngster when they were held outdoors. The games are one of the few opportunities we have to compete and having been involved with the British Polio Fellowship for over 30 years, I am still very proud to be taking part once more.”
In attendance and lending his support to the participants at Leicester will be paralympian and London 2012 medal winner James Crisp, a keen ambassador for The British Polio Fellowship. Having contracted Polio as a baby, this led to James eventually losing the use of his left leg. Having experienced this muscle wastage from such an early age James has always managed his lifestyle around his disability and hasn’t let it hold him back from achieving his dreams.James Crisp said: “Contracting Polio was obviously a traumatic experience for my parents but one which I was luckily too young to really understand at the time. However, it has made me the person I am today and it’s the reason I am part of the British Paralympics Squad.
“I am a keen supporter of The British Polio Fellowship; working to raise money for the charity through my sponsors and supporters, in order to help others like me achieve their dreams and make the most of their abilities, not focus on their disabilities. The Indoor Games is a unique opportunity for those with Polio and PPSto come together for the weekend from all over the country, keep the Olympic and Paralympic spirit alive and try and fulfil their dreams of achievement.”
Ted Hill, Chief Executive of the British Polio Fellowship, said: “It must be remembered that many of our members who have made it through to the national finals were strong competitors in many sports when they were younger, many having represented their region and country in the original British Polio Games which included track and field and swimming.
“PPS combined with older age means that most of our members can no longer compete in the more athletic sports and games, so the Indoor Games was born as a way of ensuring our members still had a national forum in which to compete and socialise.”
Whilst the level of competition is still incredibly intense and people are clearly ‘playing to win’, equally as important to those with Polio and PPS is the opportunity to catch up with old friends, swop notes about latest treatments and share experiences found to help with day to day living.