Date: Thursday 05 January 2017
A determined teenager with special needs is working hard to earn his place representing Great Britain in judo – and he’s now a step closer to his dream thanks to a generous donation from our South Wales team.
Kyle Jones, 17, attends Pontarddulais Judo Club at Dragon School of Combat in Pontarddulais, near Swansea, and recently won a bronze medal in the British Special Needs Open Championships in Stoke Mandeville.
Kyle’s now hoping to take part in competitions in Europe and his mum Tabitha has launched a fundraising campaign to raise the money he needs for travelling expenses.
We have donated £500 to the campaign which includes a Taylor Wimpey-branded kitbag, tracksuit and rain jacket.
Kyle’s coach, Andrew Burt, says: “Kyle fought brilliantly at the Special Needs Open Championships, and he got a bronze medal even though I had entered him in a harder category than he really should have been in!
“I myself am disabled – I’ve only got one leg – and I think this gives me a bit of an insight to help other people with disabilities.
“When Kyle first came down the club about a year ago, he had a little bit of extra help with techniques but he just mixed in with everyone else. He’s worked exceptionally hard and has done so well in such a short period of time.”
Andrew is well qualified to help Kyle towards his dream, having himself been a member of the Great Britain judo squad for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and having represented Wales at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. A succession of knee injuries, however, put an end to his Olympic hopes and culminated in the enforced amputation of his leg after he contracted septicaemia.
Despite these challenges, Andrew has remained dedicated to the sport, teaching children, both disabled and able-bodied, as well as those with behavioural problems, as coach at Pontarddulais Judo Club.
Andrew says Kyle’s next step is to achieve his green belt, hopefully in the next couple of months, which will allow him to qualify for the British squad.
Kyle, who attends Ysgol Pen-y-Bryn, a special school in Morriston, Swansea, hopes to take part in competitions in Europe, where Andrew says opportunities for judo players with special needs are much more developed.
“Judo has made such a difference to Kyle,” Andrew adds. “Before, he wasn’t really doing anything and judo has changed his life. I went to his school to do a judo come-and-try session and he was there teaching everyone. It’s fantastic to see how his confidence has developed.
“I think it’s also given him a sense of purpose he didn’t have before. For me, personally it’s phenomenal to have been able to help him – it gives me goose-bumps to talk about it!”
Sara Taylor, Sales and Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey South Wales, says: “We are delighted to be helping Kyle compete abroad. His dedication to judo is really impressive and we’d like to wish him every success in future competitions.”