Donald splashes out to claim Sheffield hat-trick

Hawick disabled swimmer Donald Gray
Hawick disabled swimmer Donald Gray

A DISABLED teenager who relies on a wheelchair is celebrating winning a hat-trick of medals at a major national swimming event.

Despite being born with spina bifada and unable to walk, high school pupil Donald Gray has proved that once in the water he is a force to be reckoned with – and the plucky 14-year old has just won gold for his country.

Having qualifed to compete in the recent DSE National Junior Disability Swimming Championships in Sheffield, Donald was victorious in the 100m breastroke, and claimed silver in the 100m freestyle and 50m freestyle.

And mum Rachel says the dedicated youngster has now set his sights on representing Scotland on a much bigger stage.

She told the Hawick News: “Donald loves his swimming and was delighted in Sheffield. He now wants to see how far he can go, and his ambition is to reach the Commonwealth Games, which spurs him on.”

The third year pupil’s passion began at Wilton primary and he now trains thrice weekly at Teviotdale Leisure Centre, as well as with the national squad in Stirling every month.

And Mrs Gray says as the Teviot Turbo’s only disabled swimmer, he can hopepfully inspire other youngsters. She explained: “I didn’t think he would be allowed in the club due to his disability, until one of the coaches said it wouldn’t be a problem. Maybe there are others who think they can’t join in, but it’s more inclusive than they think. Just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they can’t join in normal activities.”

Mrs Gray says Donald’s swimming continues to go from strength to strength continually recording personal bests.

And highlighting their round-trip up to Stirling each month, she commented: “It’s a long journey but it’s important to have that link with other disabled swimmers. He wants to keep training and make sure he’s good enough for the championships next year.”

And alluding to how thrilled she, husband Chris, and siblings Moira, 16, and Alisdair 13 are with Donald’s success, she added: “As a family we are all very proud of Donald.”