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Bexley teen not letting anything stand in the way of sporting success

PUBLISHED: 10:25 20 September 2012

Tom Barton

Tom Barton

Archant

Still on a high from the Paralympics, a visually impaired schoolboy from Bexley is hoping to continue his journey to sporting stardom.

Tom BartonTom Barton

Tom Barton, 14, attends Bexley Grammar School in Welling and is sports mad. He has suffered from a condition called nystagmus since birth, which severely affects his vision. He said: “It basically means everything is blurry and it’s hard to see anything up close or in the distance. But I’m never made to feel different.”

He plays as many sports as he can, including cricket and rugby, but his latest passion is judo.

Tom went as a spectator to both Olympic and Paralympic judo events at the ExCel Arena this summer, and saw former Falconwood schoolgirl Gemma Gibbons pick up her silver medal.

He has only been training for 18 months, having first been introduced to the sport at a free disability open day at the Danson Youth Centre in Bexley.

Tom now attends classes twice a week – once at the centre and once at Thomas Tallis School in Blackheath.

He said: “I really love judo. I’m already an orange belt, which is really good progress for such a short space of time. The discipline is something that is a really important skill.

“Because a lot of judo is about holding, I can take part in regular competitions – which is good because there aren’t many disability judo events around.”

Tom was invited to take part in a Paralympic judo test event at the ExCel in May where disabled athletes tried out the venues to make sure equipment and security was all up to standard.

ParalympicsGB went on to win a bronze and a silver.

“Going to the Games was a great experience and really inspired me,” said Tom.

“Doing judo professionally is definitely something I’d consider but it depends how things work out. The main thing is I’m having a lot of fun.”

Dad Martin said: “Both myself and his mum, Anita, are very proud of Tom. He’s always playing sport in the back garden with his younger brother Josh. He’s given most sports a go.

“We’re just glad he’s doing something he loves and making great progress.”

His school PE teacher Adam Skinner coaches the youngster in a range of sports.

He said: “Tom is an inspiration. He tries his hand at any sport and usually succeeds, although he doesn’t let his school work suffer.

“He’s a great ambassador for the school and there should be no limit to his ambitions.”

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