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Torch joy for Steven

Published: 7 Jul 2012 11:00

A SEVERELY disabled teenager from Port Glasgow who has battled against all the odds to compete in various sports is being honoured for his courage and determination by becoming a Paralympic torch bearer.

Steven Sweeney got to grips with the Paralympic Torch.

Eighteen-year-old Steven Sweeney, from Devol, is quadriplegic, which is the most severe type of cerebral palsy, caused by extensive damage to the brain.

The youngster is wheelchair-bound and suffers from a range of problems including limited communication or motor skills.

But despite his challenges the inspirational teenager still manages to play a range of sports every week including powerchair football and Boccia - a precision ball sport similar to bowls.

His love of sport and determination to compete has earned him the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carry the famous flame of the Paralympic Games on the final leg of its tour enroute to London.

Steven and mum Angela, dad Steven and twin brother Gareth, will travel to Stoke Mandeville on 28 August to take part in the prestigious torch relay ceremony.

And the occasion will be a proud and emotional one for the whole family and particularly mum Angela, 53, who is full-time carer for her son.

She told the Tele: "We are all proud, it is great and something that doesn't happen every day.

"It's an achievement for someone to be asked to do that.

"Steven has a lot of motor problems because he's quadriplegic but he likes doing things in his powerchair, things like bowling and Boccia - he tries everything.

"He's a very sociable boy - he loves people talking to him. He doesn't have a lot of speech but he has some sign language and makes you aware what he likes and doesn't like and loves people to chat away to him.

"We're really pleased for him and it will be a big family event."

Steven is a pupil of Corseford School in Kilbarchan and has been rewarded for his will to compete thanks to his teacher Ian Wood who nominated his star pupil for the honour of carrying the torch.

The teenager, who uses a powerdrive wheelchair, took part in the Renfrewshire Special Needs Athletic Championship and also plays crazy golf, Boccia and football.

Steven last week got to grips with the torch and met some of his fellow torchbearers at the Mound in Edinburgh ahead of the lighting of Scotland's flame on Sunday 26 August.

He was chosen as a torch bearer for being one of a number of

individuals demonstrating the Paralympic values of courage, determination, equality and inspiration.

The decision was made on behalf of Scottish Disability Sport - the governing body of sports for people with a physical, sensory or learning disability - and Capability Scotland along with Paralympic Games sponsors Bank of Scotland.

Angela, left with Steven, said: "I think he's proud of doing it. His teacher asked him and he said yes.

"He put him forward because he likes sport and goes to wheelchair football every week.

"At the powerchair football club he's part of there are 16 boys. It's in its second year and is run by volunteers - he just looks forward to it every Tuesday night, and it's great to watch them and see how they learn the tactics.

"It's an activity they can do and don't have to watch from the side."

Bank of Scotland is the only National Presenting Partner of the London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay.

Find out what it is doing locally and who is carrying the Flame at bankofscotland.co.uk/paralympicflame

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