A wheelchair racer is hoping that a new set of wheels can fulfil his dream of becoming a Paralympian.
Nathan Freeman was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby, and became a wheelchair user aged 10 after a hip operation in 2013.
He was introduced to wheelchair racing soon after – and the 13-year-old from Durrington in Worthing has never looked back.
Nathan raced against six-time Paralympic champion David Weir and was coached by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.
The community has raised more than £3,000 of the £5,000 needed to buy Nathan a bespoke racing chair, which he hopes will let him earn a place alongside his heroes.
He said: “My ultimate aim is to get on Team GB and wear that vest. I don’t even mind about medalling that much because actually all I want to do is represent my country.”
The chair will be made by Draft Wheelchairs in Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire, which counts David Weir as a customer.
Nathan is going into his fourth season of competition, and hopes the new chair’s carbon wheels and specialised straps will shave seconds off his personal best.
Last year, on Friday, May 7, Nathan competed against Weir in a 400m race at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury, which he described as ‘racing against the equivalent of Messi and Ronaldo’.
He said: “To be on the track with him gave me lots of confidence, because I could be like that if I tried hard. I really went for it and knocked four seconds off my personal best.”
Nathan is a founding member of the Worthing and District Harriers’ wheelchair racing club, and has helped to grow the group to around 10 members.
He said that racing ‘gives me the feeling of running’ and has helped him see the positives in being different: “Not being able to walk has shut lots of doors, but me being a wheelchair user has opened so many more.
“Life can be tough, but wheelchair racing has helped that and made me think I can be independent.”
Nathan’s mother Kim said: “I’m very proud of Nathan. He is just so patient and determined, not just about his own performance but encouraging other people as well.”
Nathan’s twin brother Josh does not have his condition. He has given up some of his own clubs to support his brother, who he described as his ‘best friend’.
Josh said: “It’s incredible how he has the drive to do all this stuff because I don’t think I could do it.”
To donate to Nathan’s cause, go to gofundme.com/mvv3yytg.
There will also be a fundraising auction on March 3 at 7.30pm, held at Goring Conservative Club in Mulberry Lane, Goring. Tickets are £2, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Kim on 07870 486504.
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