Autistic boy disqualified from victory because he swam too fast


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Madness: A nine-year-old autistic boy was denied a gold swimming medal in a special Olympics competition in Wales because he set a personal best time that was more than 15% better than his previous best.

Rory Logan, nine, was competing in the Special Olympics Regional finals in Bangor, north Wales, and won the 50 metres race in 53.15 seconds – a personal best and smashing his heat time of one minute and three seconds. However, when it came to the medal ceremony, Rory, from County Antrim, was simply given a ribbon for participating instead of the gold he was expecting.

Now mum Briony claims that officials told her that he didn’t get a medal because he was too fast for the race. She told Belfast Live: “Rory came to me and said, ‘Mum I didn’t do anything wrong, I won fair and square, what did I do?’. I was absolutely gutted for him. I went to speak to the officials and basically they said he had been disqualified because he swam too fast. No one can get over this decision. Apparently you can’t be more than 15% faster than the time you swam in your heats just in case you are trying to swim slower in your heat to be placed in a lower division’s final.”

The boy went on to win gold in two other races, for which he should be cheered, but that he was denied a medal because he did his best is beyond disgusting.The worst part of this story is that in the future this kid is likely going to sandbag his achievements in order to avoid getting punished for success.

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3 comments

  • LocalFluff

    Or, he actually cheated! Precisely by under performing, but during the qualification race. Like a boxer does anything to lose weight before a tournament in order to get into a lower weight class in order to meet competition easier to beat. I can’t tell from this story, but I think that a nine year old elite sportsman understands this and tests the limits. A 15% limit is certainly arbitrary, but so are all such handicaps in all sports that I know of. I suppose it is meant to be an incentive to do the best already during qualifications.

  • eddie willers

    but I think that a nine year old elite sportsman understands this and tests the limits

    Saying, “a nine year old elite autistic sportsman” would make the satire even more biting.

  • Tom Billings

    Being on the autistic spectrum myself, I can provide some information points.

    1.) It is common for people with ASDs to hear the words, …”But you did it before, and smoothly, why can’t you do it now??!”

    Though this happens most often in the social situations neurotypicals often associate with ASDs, it can also happen in the other things that affect people on the spectrum. For instance, one of the common lacks in intrabrain communications for those with ASDs is the negative feedback in musculature command paths that neurotypicals take for granted. It keeps humans from hurting themselves through overloading the muscles. Some with ASDs lack this.

    As a result, in HS, I was wrestling, and went into panic in the middle of a match, gripping an opponents forearm too hard, and gave him a green-stick fracture. Later in life, the damage to me from such incidents is evident as general inflammation in the hands and arms, but even as a young child my father could not understand why I could not grip a paint brush to help paint the garage for more than 5 minutes without pain, and could not hold on to the paint brush to keep painting for more than 10-15 minutes. Manual repetition was, and increasingly is, simply too painful for me after a short time.

    2.) This lack of inhibition also contributes to the sensitivity of *some* with ASDs to light, or to sound, or to smells. Commonly, in order to socialize, human brains use inhibitory circuits as a sort of Automatic Volume Control in crowds to keep distraction from others’ voices to a minimum. *Some* with ASDs lack that AVC ability, to a greater or lesser extent. I have a friend on the spectrum who has been Concert Master for a local orchestra, and loves uncluttered music. However, she has real trouble in crowded rooms, and at a party she will find a nice quiet corner from which to people-watch, by preference. She considers light I can barely see in to be too bright quite often. If we are walking down the street and she sees someone walking towards us on the sidewalk smoking, she will pull me across the street. If we must cross close to the smoker, she will have a hacking cough afterwards for as much as 30 minutes.

    3.) Some combination of these lacks, (such as lack of focus in the trials portion of the competition) alongside training and other variable from the environment (while my mild ASD still causes some problems, 90% of the difficulties in my life have come from family demands that I act “normal”) could easily account for the variation in performance reported in this article.

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