AN athletics club specialising in sports for people with disabilities has won a haul of medals in its first competition as a charity.

Athletes from Bradford, Keighley and Skipton Disability Athletics travelled to London to compete in a Special Olympics event and all returned with a medal or ribbon. The medal tally was 16 gold, 14 silver and 11 bronze.

The trip was nearly cancelled after travel costs escalated but Bradford Council stepped in to fund the coach so all the athletes could travel.

The club started in 2015 with four members and gained charity status in February this year. Around 30 members train twice a week in both track and field, including sprint, middle and long distance running, shot putt, long jump and standing long jump. Athletes are aged between eight and 51 and three are currently at Paralympic training camps receiving one-to-one coaching.

Disabilities in the team include Down's syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and sight and hearing problems as well as frame and wheelchair. Athletes are divided into categories and compete according to age, gender and ability.

Coaching assistant Val Lightowler, who set up the organisation with head coach Janet Arkwright, said it was a massive achievement for the club and that there were both physical and wellbeing benefits to athletics training.

"It’s the power of sport,” she said. “It’s really good motivation for them and keeps them fit and healthy - they just love it.

"For these guys, it’s not just fitness but also being able to vent some of the issues they face every day by taking part in sport. It gives them a goal as well and motivates them to go out twice a week and do exercise which is a big thing. Some of them find it easier to focus on themselves rather than do a team sport but they are brilliant at encouraging each other."

Athletes in the club can also attend wellbeing sessions from the organisation Step 2, which provides a youth worker to talk about friendships, good relationships and how to keep safe and well.

The club is affiliated to England Athletics and is planning to offer training in discus, javelin and hammer soon. People with all disabilities are welcome and the club hopes to represent Great Britain at the Special Olympics in Berlin next year.

Athletes train at University Academy Keighley (UAK) on Mondays and Wednesdays 6-7.30pm. For more information, contact