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Erraid barred from Paralympics qualifier

Errand Davies in training for the Rio Paralympics this year. Photo Kevin Jones

SHETLAND’S medal-winning swimmer Erraid Davies has been told she may not be able to take part in the 2016 Rio Paralympics after her disability was reclassified by judges on Thursday.

The 15 year old had travelled to Glasgow to compete in this weekend’s British para swimming championship in Glasgow’s Tollcross International Swimming Centre, where the Paralympic team will be chosen.

However in a statement issued on Friday afternoon, Scottish Swimming announced: “In line with IPC classification process, Erraid Davies of Delting Dolphins in Shetland…has been deemed ineligible to compete in the forthcoming British Para Swimming International Meet.”

As a teenager Davies has to undergo regular tests to ensure her disability is severe enough to qualify in the para events.

Under the standard protocol, Davies will be assessed again over the summer, probably in June. If her classification is restored, it will be up to the selectors whether she should be allowed to go to Rio or not.

A Scottish Swimming spokeswoman said: “We are very much working towards a new classification and hope to have news of that in the coming days.

Erraid winning bronze in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Photo Ian MacNicol

“While Erraid and her family are extremely upset and disappointed with the outcome, they welcome the opportunity of a second review and both Scottish Swimming and British Swimming are supporting them at this time.”

Davies has a childhood hip disorder known as Perthes Disease in her left hip, which has allowed her to compete in the breast stroke against other people with disabilities.

She shot into the limelight in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when she won a bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke at the age of 13, the youngest ever athlete to compete in the Games.

Since her success, Davies has been training hard for the Paralympics where she was hoping to do well.

Her father David said the family were devastated by this week’s developments and needed time to digest the news.

“In one way we are very happy (that she has been classified as able-bodied), but we know the pain that Erraid suffers quite regularly and she has difficulty walking any long distance,” he said.

“It’s a really distressing time for Erraid because since the Commonwealth Games she has been under extra pressure to get a qualifying time for Rio and now she may have lost that opportunity.”

Errand with Loganair pilot Kurray Gibbons on her first sponsored flight this week to attend the para swimming championships in Glasgow.

Shetland, where Davies moved when she was just four years old and barely able to walk, has taken the young swimmer to its heart ever since her Commonwealth Games success.

As well as garnering huge national media attention, she was shortlisted for a Young Scots Award.

She has been fundraising hard to help her attend training events for the Paralympics.

 

 

Only this week airline Loganair announced they were sponsoring her flights to and from Shetland with her mother, the first of which was to this weekend’s event in Glasgow.

Loganair director Roy Bogle said: “Erraid was rightly one of Scotland’s biggest success stories during what was a fabulous Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, and we are happy to make what is a small contribution to supporting her enormous talent.”

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