INSPIRATIONAL athlete Scott Jones was given a hero’s welcome on his return to Cheltenham after his latest world-beating feats.
More than 300 people turned out at the Prince of Wales Stadium to cheer the 15-year-old’s recent triumph in the boy’s seated shot-put at the 2013 School Games in Sheffield.
The surprise welcome was also a chance for Cheltenham Harriers to congratulate Scott on his victory at the IPC World Athletics Championships earlier this year where he brought home the gold for Britain, smashing the world record in the process.
Friends, family and aspiring athletes joined in paying tribute to the wonder-kid, who has defied all the odds by excelling at disabled sports since he started using a wheelchair earlier this year.
Scott, from Swindon Village, admitted the welcome had taken him by surprise.
“It was quite overwhelming,” he said.
“I had no idea this was planned.
“I thought I was just coming down here to say hello to a few people.
“I want to say a big thank you to everyone who came along. It means a lot.
“You don’t realise when you’re out there competing how many people back home are following you and willing you on.”
Scott’s story represents a remarkable triumph over adversity.
The Cleeve School pupil was a promising able-bodied athlete before he suffered stroke-like symptoms in 2010. Earlier this year a third seizure left him needing a wheelchair.
But now he has big plans for the future.
“I’m building towards the European Championships next year, the World Championships in 2015 and then the Olympics in Rio in 2016,” he added.
“Now that I’m world champion I don’t want to let anyone take that away from me.”
Attendees gave Scott a hearty round of applause before enjoying a piece of cake made for the occasion.
Tina Fawle, an executive committee member at Cheltenham Harriers, said: “The number of people who came along this evening shows how highly people think of him.”
Cheltenham mayor Wendy Flynn was on hand to present Scott with a bouquet of flowers.
She said: “On behalf of everyone in Cheltenham, we are very proud of what he has done.
“It sets a wonderful example to other people with disabilities who want to achieve something in sport.”
Scott’s achievements struck a particular chord with one young man.
Finn Lusty is a sports-mad 10-year-old from Up Hatherley who has cerebral palsy.
The condition means the Aston Villa fan cannot always participate in the same activities as other youngers at Greatfield Primary School.
“It’s brilliant coming here and seeing Scott,” he said. “It makes you realise that anything is possible.”