Gallery Archive 2013-2014
WHAT Xander Harris lacks in stature he more than makes up for in talent and enthusiasm as the city schoolboy’s eight-medal return from the National Dwarf Games clearly proved.
Harris returned from the popular Birmingham and Wolverhampton staged event with three golds, four silvers and a bronze medal – a three-medal improvement on his efforts at last year’s competition.
The 10-year-old also met up again with Paralympian Ellie Simmonds, who opened the games which this year included competitors from France.
There were around 200 enthusiastic youngsters with dwarfism competing in sports as varied as athletics, swimming and basketball.
Few if any flew the flag for their respective cities with distinction as young Xander, who attends Pennycross Primary School.
His gold medals came in junior hockey, basketball and under-11 cycle time trial.
In the same age group, Xander won silver in both the 60m and 40m sprint events, new age curling and junior football.
His bronze medal came in the under-11 cricket ball throwing where he went from last to third with his last throw.
Amazingly, said proud dad Ian Harris, his son won medals at events he had never before performed.
He is fast adding another sport to his portfolio as he has taken to swimming like the proverbial duck to water.
Whether it is a Simmonds-inspired effect, Ian doesn’t know, but he does know he has gone from a non-swimmer to one identified with potential.
Ian said: “Xander loves learning new skills and he isn’t afraid of having a go at any sport.
“His bubbly personality and natural athletic instincts came to the fore again at the Games and like last year, he was in fantastic spirits.
“My favourite medal from him came in the cricket ball throwing when he tried over-arm and was eighth and last.
“But then someone suggested under-arm and with nothing to lose he went right up to third.
“Nothing seems to faze him and he just loves to meet people with the same disability as himself and, of course, great role models like Ellie Simmonds.”
Ian added: “A coach at the Life Centre reckons Xander has real potential, so he’s gone from an absolute beginner to one with talent inside three weeks.
“His sporting ambition is to be a Paralympian and me and his mum are just happy he is enjoying his sport – and of course, we are proud of his achievements.”