Project SEARCH student on the hunt for Paralympic medals

Steven Stone at FVC

Project SEARCH student on the hunt for Paralympic medals

International athletics is about to find out just how good Project SEARCH intern Steven Stone really is as he gears up to take part in the Tokyo Paralympic Games at the end of this summer.

Steven (21) from Bo’ness is part of the Great Britain team preparing to take part in the games in the Japanese capital from 24 August to 5 September, and he is looking forward to competing in the Long Jump in the T20 classification.

And, despite him still needing to officially qualify at selection trails on 19 July, it seems that Steven – who is currently training six days a week - might be in with a good chance of bringing back a medal or two, as he is currently ranked second in the UK for the long jump and fifth in the world in his classification.

Steven currently lists his athletic achievements as: current GB champion for long jump; 2013 Special Olympic gold medallist in long jump and 800m; 2017 Special Olympics gold medallist in 400 metres, relay, long jump and shot put; Personal Best for long jump 6m 59cm; Personal Best for 400m is 53.453 seconds and Personal Best for 100m is 11.7 seconds.

He, said: “I am looking forward to heading to Tokyo. I am really focussed and am going to try my best to win gold. Taking part in athletics, takes my mind of everything and I believe out on the sports field and track is where I belong”.

“Similarly I really enjoy participating in the Project SEARCH programme as I have learned a lot and it has made me much more confident in myself. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

“My advice to future students and athletes would be to believe in yourself, be confident, keep going and don’t stop.”

One place where he has already proved to be a winner is on the one-year Project SEARCH internship programme – a partnership between Forth Valley College, Falkirk Council Employment and Training Unit, SERCO, NHS Forth Valley and Skills Development Scotland - supporting young people with learning difficulties to gain skills and experience aimed at helping them move into sustainable employment.

The programme has been based at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert for the last two years, where learning and placements take place. But since August 2020, on account of Covid-19 limitations, the current Project SEARCH interns have been based at Forth Valley College’s Falkirk Campus.

Alan Ritchie a Lecturer on the Project SEARCH course, said: “I first met Steven when he was skimming stones at Loch Lomond and was astonished at how far he could throw, I then discovered that he was an elite athlete! Steven got a place on the Project SEARCH course, during a challenging year, which helps interns gain the skills and confidence to get a paid job. Steven has shown his fellow interns, and staff, that determination and resilience can get you results if you focus and work hard - which has resulted in almost all interns gaining a job. We are proudly looking forward to cheering him on to additional success on the athletics field.”

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