10-year-old Wellesley College student Henry Patterson is a talented runner. But when he chose to run the regional heats of his school race barefoot he fell foul of the judges, who disqualified him.
Henry, who prefurs to run barefoot, says “I can feel the terrain better” a technique that has worked for him as he obviously has talent.
Henry’s mum was left perplexed when she was told that her son would not be able to compete in the regional finals, where is was odds on to finish either first or second.
“I saw kids running at that event that were running in school shoes and in shoes that were two sizes too big. They ran like clowns.” Said Henry’s mum Andrena Patterson.
The Lower Hutt Primary School Sports Association, which ran the event doesn’t allow runners to compete in barefoot and it had aligned itself with their guidelines.
“The rule was there to help protect kids’ feet from spiked shoes because young runners sometimes struggled to stick to their lanes. Said Neil Sargisson a spoksman for the sports association.
Thankfully Henry has the full backing of his school principle Brendan Pittman who has contested the fairness of the decision.
“To allow a child to run where he would have qualified on merit, and then disqualify him is cruel and inhumane,” Patterson said.
As the story has hit the mainstream media, many others have shown their support for the lad, including double Olympic 1500m medallist Nick Willis who said “running and walking in bare feet for kids has huge advantages in their development for their running stride”
1976 Olympic 1500m gold medallist Sir John Walker, 64, said the situation was “political correctness all gone wrong”.
We are not sure if the decision is likely to be overturned but appears to be a situation of health and safety over common sense. We wish Henry all the best for the future and hope this doesn;t dampen his love for running.