Games success for Megan and Mark

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TWO youngsters are on top of the world after scooping a whopping 18 medals between them during a sports event for people with restricted growth.

Ten-year-old Megan Atkinson and nine-year-old Mark Swan swept the board in the 18th Dwarf Sports Association games, which were recently held in Birmingham.

The sporty youngsters have hopes of being future Paralympians after meeting Eleanor Simmonds, who was Britain’s first Paralympic gold medallist aged just 13 in the swimming at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Megan, who lives in Balmoral Drive, in Peterlee and attends the town’s Our Lady of the Rosary School, appeared in the Mail last year, having scooped seven medals.

This year, she introduced her friend Mark, an Acre Rigg Junior School pupil who lives in Mansell Crescent, Peterlee, to the event and the pair walked away with an astonishing nine medals each.

Megan won four gold medals, two silver and three bronze in sports including swimming, football, athletics, running, new-age curling, shot putt and discus.

The feat is even more remarkable as her times were so good, she qualified for the Under-18s section, rather than the Under-14s.

Mark won three gold medals, four silver and two bronze in the frisbee, running, cricket ball-throwing, swimming, hockey, basketball, football and curling.

Megan, who competes nationally as a member of Peterlee Swimming Club, and Mark were both born with a condition called achondroplasia, a growth disorder which affects one in 15,000 births.

Megan’s mum, Sarah, who is married to Kevin and also mum to Emily, eight, and Isobel, six, said: “I never thought she would be so good this year, I thought it was going to be harder.

“Last year she competed in the Under-10s and this year it was the Under-14s.

“She wants to get more training in and aim for the Paralympics.

“She lets nothing hold her back.”

Megan said: “I’m really pleased with myself.”

Mark’s mum, Andrea, who travelled to the event at Aldersley Leisure Village with her partner, Graham Peart, 26, said: “He has been really down and depressed about being small and in tears all the time but this did him the world of good.

“He is a determined boy and even if he can’t do something he will have a go.

“He did the shot putt, which was a cricket ball, and broke the record with 69ft – 21ft further than last year’s record holder.

“I’m absolutely tickled pink for him.”

Full-time mum Andrea, 33, added that Mark’s dad Paul Swan, 48, and 10 brothers and sisters were also proud of him.

Mark said: “I’m really proud, the event helped me make more friends.”