Rafael Bagott from Newcastle has received a £1,500 OCS Young Sports Person Award in recognition of his outstanding sporting ability. In the awards scheme, run in partnership with the charity SportsAid, disabled swimmer Rafael beat stiff competition to scoop the prize for the Disability Category for England.
14 year old Rafael was found to have eye cancer aged two, affecting both eyes. He had his right eye removed, but also has significant visual impairment of the left eye following treatment and was registered visually impaired at the age of four. When swimming, he finds it difficult to see the instructor and, without any depth perception, he has to count the strokes to avoid injuring himself in the pool. However, after discovering a natural flair for the sport and with the help of a great coach at Newburn Swimming Club, two years ago Rafael started to take part in swimming competitions.
Since then, he has won a raft of medals, including gold at the 50m butterfly in the Burns Meet in Sheffield earlier this year, and a gold medal as part of the relay team at the National Junior Championships. This was the first time a relay gold medal had been awarded to the North East in over ten years. He is part of the GB talent programme and hopes to make the Paralympics in Rio in 2016. Rafael most recently took the 50m freestyle gold at the UK school games in September.
Rafael was delighted to receive an OCS Young Sports Person Award and commented, “Getting my mum and dad up at 4 a.m. every day to take me to the pool has all been worth it! Seriously, I am really pleased as this money will help me greatly.”
Rafael will join the winners from ten UK regions, three other national disability category winners and the Young Star category winner at a celebratory event on 24th November in the OCS Stand at the Kia Oval. On the day, OCS will announce one overall winner who will receive a further £8,500 worth of support over three years. Previous OCS Young Sports Person Award winners will attend the event alongside a host of top sporting stars such as Kate Howey MBE, Wayne Otto OBE, Beth Tweddle MBE and Rory Underwood MBE.
Chris Cracknell, chief executive of OCS said, “The OCS Young Sports Person Awards, now in its 14th year, highlights our commitment to supporting young people who are great role models, not only for their peers, but for many others in business and the community. Their drive and relentless determination to achieve their goals is inspirational. Our grass-roots scheme helps young athletes right at the start of their career when support and funding is needed most. Well done to the athletes who have been rewarded this year and we hope that they will have the same success as many of our past winners, some of whom look set to represent GB in London 2012.”