Erraid Davies, from Shetland, is the youngest ever Commonwealth games medallist, and she did that by winning bronze in the para–sport Women’s 100m Breastroke.
Erraid has Perthes Disease, which has affected her hip joint since she was a child. Some young children do well, and others are sadly troubled by this condition for a lot longer in their life.
I am not going to go into the pros and cons of treatment, prognosis or causes of Perthes here. Rather I am more inclined to try seeing positives out of what is being perceived and reported as devastating negatives for Erraid this week.
It is being reported in the national media sports pages that Erraid has been disqualified from competing at the Paralypmics in Rio, because she is no longer disabled enough to take part.
A spokeswoman for Scottish Swimming said: “In line with IPC classification process, Erraid Davies of Delting Dolphins in Shetland, undertook a classification review at Tollcross International Swimming Centre, and has been deemed ineligible to compete in the forthcoming British Para Swimming International Meet.
“Standard protocol following such a review outcome is for Erraid to be seen again and arrangements are being made for this.
“While Erraid and her family are extremely upset and disappointed with the outcome, they welcome the opportunity of a second review and both Scottish Swimming and British Swimming are supporting them at this time”
“Her father David said the family were devastated by the developments and needed time to digest it. He said: “In one way we are very happy (that she has been classified as able-bodied), but we know the pain that Erraid suffers quite regularly and she has difficulty walking any long distance.”
Like any parent, it would appear that David is looking at the improvement in Erraids’ hip which under any other circumstances , would bring celebration. The continued weightless exercise of swimming, with the Delting Dolphins in Lerwick, probably means that she has improved so much that she is no longer classed as “ disabled enough ” for the purposes of the Paralympics. The reasons for this classification are obvious in that not being disabled enough brings unfair advantage against other competitors.
It is a tough rule but necessary to try and prevent unscrupulous competitors from entering. Over the years there have been suspicions about competitors who were not “really disabled”.
This report from an English language German Magazine explains the problem of medical examiners invigilating in pre –sports examinations.
We all wish Erraid the very best for the future, and I certainly hope that she gets to Rio when the medical team re – examine her. I think all of us who followed the Para –Sports at the Commonwealth Games Glasgow 2014, remember her infectiously happy reaction, and huge beaming smile on winning her medal, which made her such an instant hit with the viewing public.
Equally, if she does not get to Rio, I hope she keeps up her swimming, continues to improve her condition, and inspire and instruct other disabled swimmers to keep going using her happy disposition.