Just months after being cheered on by a soon-to-be Paralympic star, an eight-year- old Silsden boy has taken up wheelchair racing.
For Evan Whitton, taking part in the competitive sport is the perfect way to unwind after years of difficult but inspirational achievements.
Born with cerebral palsy, Evan sees racing as a perfect way to better himself and in every session tries to smash his personal best.
The Hothfield Junior School pupil has already had an impressive few years.
Facing life in a wheelchair until a life-changing operation in the US last year, Evan has gone on to walk to school for the first time, was invited to bring the Paralympic Torch from London to Yorkshire and on Thursday night was named “youngster of the year” at an awards ceremony celebrating the best the county has to offer.
His father, Andrew, said although physiotherapy was hard for Evan, wheelchair racing was the perfect escape and had even brought out his competitive side.
He added: “He has started racing at the John Charles Sports Centre in Leeds once a week. He is always trying to beat his personal best time every time he goes.”
Evan added: “I can do a hundred metres in 62 and a half seconds. I really enjoy it.”
When he attends the sessions he uses a specially-adapted wheelchair, similar to those used by Paralympian sprinters like Hannah Cockroft, who won gold in both the 100 and 200 metres in the London Games. In May, before her success, she was one of the crowd cheering on Evan as he walked the 600 metres from his home to school for the first time.
Mr Whitton feels his son has the determination to keep up his racing, adding: “At the moment it is good to have something that isn’t appointments or physio. Last week it was pouring down with rain, but he still wanted to go. He just loves improving his best time each week. He is very competitive.”
The family are still getting used to the idea that Evan won the youngster of the year award at Thursday’s Yorkshire Young Achievers Awards. Evan admitted being nervous when the awards were announced, although he overcame his stage fright when his name was called. He said: “I’m really proud, it does make the work worth it.
“I am going to tell my school friends about it on Monday.”
His dad added: “It has been an amazing couple of years.
“We thought everything had returned to normal before the award. I wouldn’t put anything past Evan now. The award has inspired him to carry on with the hard work.”