UK

Olympic torch: Wheelchair athlete Ben Fox carries torch

  • 23 May 2012
  • From the section UK

The mother of a wheelchair basketball athlete said she was "so, so proud" to see her son carry the Olympic torch through Royal Wootton Bassett.

Ben Fox, 16, who has one leg and wants to compete at the Paralympics, was cheered wildly by the crowd.

Before his 300m section, Ben told the BBC he was "really nervous but excited."

He had to keep swapping hands over his part of the relay as the torch kept slipping from his grasp.

Earlier Ben met Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba who was carrying the torch in Swindon.

On Twitter, Ben said the striker shook his hand. It was "insane", he wrote.

Taste of success

His mother, Carol Fox, was nervous before his run but added: "2016 is Ben's aim. This could be the start.

"This is just a taster for Ben and I'm sure he'll want it even more now," she said.

As an athlete, Ben is supported by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme [TASS] which is a government backed development programme.

Athletes on the scheme receive a tailored package of services worth up to £3,500 a year, including coaching, education support, and physiotherapy.

Rebecca Adlington, Amy Williams, Ellie Simmonds, and Tom Daley are some of the athletes who have benefited from the scheme.

"It was especially great to see Ben carrying the torch through Royal Wootton Bassett, which took a tremendous amount of courage and bravery," said a TASS spokesperson.

"We hope that this will give him the drive to reach his goal of representing his country at the 2016 Rio Games and that he has inspired the British public to reach for their goals and dreams."

On social media websites people showed their support for the youngster.

'Superb determination'

On Twitter Mark Francom ‏said: "Ben Fox....amazing."

Jon Preston ‏said: "Just watched 16-year-old Ben Fox carrying the Olympic torch, he only has one leg. Superb determination shown by this young man." And Paul Harmer ‏said: "Wow. Inspirational."

Other comments on Facebook described how people were close to tears as they watched.

"What an awesome young man he is! Best wishes to him for the future and basketball," Jane Voss said.

Lynn Barnden also said: "It brought tears to my eyes. I hope he gets his 'dream-come-true' and competes in the wheelchair basketball at the 2016 Paralympic Games."

Ben, who wants to be a PE teacher when he is older, is targeting a place in the GB Wheelchair Basketball squad for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

He is currently working towards securing selection for the Junior European Wheelchair Basketball Championship in July.