BENFLEET sprinter Matthew Hamilton is just days away from the biggest test of his sporting life.
The 17-year-old King John School pupil is about to represent Great Britain at the International Wheelchair & Amputee Sports Federation World Junior Games in Stoke Mandeville.
The teenager – who will run in the T47 class 400m final on August 4 – has a just taken delivery off his GB kit.
He said: “The kit arrived in special rollerbag and it looks great. It’s really great to wear because it’s got a nice natural feel and, up until now I haven’t even taken the labels off. It’s got pride of place at home!”
“I’ll be running in the under 23 race rather than the under 18 race because the British team bosses believe that this will be a better test for me.
Hamilton is a member of the 23-strong British team and take on the world’s best young athletes.
The local runner has little strength or no manoeuvrability in his right hand, arm and shoulder – a condition called Erbs Palsy he sustained at birth.
He said: “I suppose I’m a bit nervous because I’ve competed against older runners before and I’m quite skinny. They are more physically developed than me, but it’s a vote of confidence in my ability by the team coaches so I’m happy.
“I’m keeping up with the training, although I’m not allowed to wear the GB kit for training – only for photos and when I am actually racing for the country.
“My mum and family are very excited about the competition which will be early on in the Games.
“But at least it means that I will be able to relax after the final.
“I know that various family members – including my cousins, uncle and aunt – are coming along to see me run so it’s going to be a great day.”
Hamilton’s interest in sport is widespread – he’s played rugby before – and also includes high level international competition on his bike in both distance events and in the velodrome.