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Ramsbottom teenager wins seven medals at Dwarf World Games
A TEENAGER from Ramsbottom who represented his country at a prestigious international sporting competition for people with dwarfism has “gone for gold” – bringing home seven medals.
Woodhey High pupil Matthew Topping, aged 13, travelled to the USA to take part in the Dwarf World Games, held in Michigan.
Matthew achieved a gold medal in football as well as silver in boccia, badminton doubles and 25-metre backstroke, bronze in floor hockey, basketball and bronze and a personal best in discus.
The Ashborne Court teenager competed as part of an 81-strong Team GB, who together came second in the overall medals table with 192 medals — 71 gold, 70 silver and 51 bronze.
Matthew, who was diagnosed with growth-stunting condition achondroplasia at the age of six months, said: “Representing my country was a great thrill.
“The experience of competing against and making friends with people from 17 countries around the world for Great Britain made me very proud.
“As I was in the 12 to 15 age group I didn’t think I would get an individual medal but I managed to get two, which was much more than I had hoped for.
“As a member of Team GB, one of the many highlights was our gold medal-winning performance against the USA in football — where I was the goalkeeper.”
World champion footballer Matthew just missed out on medals in javelin and shot putt in the track and field disciplines, achieving fourth and fifth place.
One of 395 athletes from around the globe who competed representing 23 nations and every US state, he dreams of becoming a Paralympian.
Matthew added: “I hope with hard work I may get the opportunity to compete at the Paralympics.
“Brazil in 2016 would be too soon, so maybe 2020.
“But if not I know I will have tried my best.”
The 2013 World Dwarf Games, held at the Michigan State University between August 3 and 10, featured 13 sports for male and female athletes from four age divisions.
Contestants competed in one of three categories based on their sitting height, standing height, arm span and mobility impairments.
The World Dwarf Games is the largest sporting event in history held exclusively for athletes with dwarfism and is held every four years — first taking place in Chicago in 1993.
Tim Shephard, development officer at the Dwarf Sports Association UK, said Team GB’s second place medals table finish was a “huge achievement”.
He said: “Every member of the team excelled. Some athletes competed in several events and over a long week of sport still worked as hard and were still as successful by the end as they were at the beginning.
“Competitors were given the chance to compete on a level playing field and were able to meet people from all over the world, come into contact with different cultures and make new friends.
“This was Matthew’s first world dwarf games — and you can’t do much better on your first time than to achieve a gold medal.
“I am sure he will develop further as a player and will look forward to competing in the next Dwarf World Games in 2017.”
Earlier this year Matthew won 10 medals in the Dwarf National Games in Birmingham — achieving one gold, five silvers and four bronzes over the three-day event despite it being his first time in the under-15s category.
To attend the games Matthew held various fundraising events, with the Dwarf Sports Association’s target in excess of £100,000 for all Team GB competitors.
An adrenaline-fuelled abseil down the Peel Monument on Holcombe Hill in April raised £700 towards his America trip, and in May Matthew took part in a sponsored 12-hour badminton session to boost funds.
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