A fundraising bid has been launched to help a talented young sportsman represent his country in Canada.
Mark Swan, 15, from Peterlee, has been chosen to represent Great Britain at the 7th World Dwarf Games in Ontario in August.
The Academy at Shotton Hall student will be 16 by the time of the games so will compete in the senior sections.
Mark, who was born with a rare form of dwarfism called achondroplasia, joined the Dwarf Sports Association UK when he was 10 and has since then clinched scores of medals, including at the international games in Michigan in 2013.
His most recent achievements were at the 2017 national games where he scooped an amazing nine medals, including four gold, three silver and three bronze.
Mark’s best events are in the throwing categories, including shot putt, discus and javelin, but the teenager, who is also a keen cricketer, competes and succeeds in lots of other sports including football, table tennis, basketball and sprint running.
He is so determined and I think it is that great attitude that has got him where he is todayAndrea Swan
His mum, Andrea Swan, said he also recently took up powerlifting.
Now, Mark’s family have started fundraising to raise £3,000 towards the trip to Canada.
Andrea, a single mum of seven who lives in the town’s Mansell Crescent, said Mark is very excited about the trip to Canada and is keen to compete in the older age groups.
She said: “I am so, so proud of Mark. From being diagnosed as a dwarf as a baby to what he has achieved today is fantastic.
“Even as a very young child he would never let anything stand in his way. If he couldn’t reach anything he would never ask for help, he would just pile up books and climb on them until he could reach.
“He is so determined and I think it is that great attitude that has got him where he is today.
“He is very popular, there are always lads coming to call for him, which is great, he is just one of the lads.”
Mark, who is currently sitting his GCSEs, will be joining East Durham College in September on a sports course.
Andrea, 39, is in the process of organsing a fund-raising charity night to be held on July 1 at Horden Legion Club, starting at 7pm.
There will be a disco, karaoke, bingo, raffles, tombola and auction, as well as food.
Anyone who would like to support Mark in his bid to attend the games in Canada should visit his funding page at www.gofundme.com/mark-swan-going-for-gold.