Partially-sighted 11-year-old conquers Hitchin Town Centre 5km Race
- Credit: Archant
A partially-sighted 11-year-old boy put in a truly inspirational performance when he completed the Hitchin Town Centre 5km Race yesterday.
Oliver Murphy, who is completely blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other, ran with the aid of his dad John – who guided him with a tether.
But the hardy youngster gave his father quite a shock when he left the tether at the final stretch and sprinted to the finish unaided, earning the largest cheer of the day.
Oliver told the Comet: “The best bit was the finish as I knew I had done it and everyone was cheering for me!”
Priory School pupil Oliver was born with microphthalmia and coloboma after his eyes failed to develop properly – microphthalmia affecting one eyeball’s size and coloboma meaning the other has an underdeveloped and keyhole-shaped pupil.
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He decided to take on the 5km race after watching his dad John take part in events such as the Great North Run.
The original plan was for John to run the whole thing with Oliver just doing a mile, but the youngster decided on the day that he wanted to conquer the entire challenge and earn a medal.
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The race, organised by Hitchin Running Club, comprised two 2½km laps – starting from the High Street and taking in locations like Hermitage Road, Brand Street and Paynes Park before coming back to Market Place.
John said: “I asked Ollie if he wanted to sprint to the finish – meaning the last few steps – but he took me by surprise and let go of the tether and was off with metres still to go! I panicked and had to run like Mo Farah to keep up with him.
“We are so proud of Ollie as this is a massive achievement for him. Hopefully this will encourage him to have the confidence to know he can do more amazing things.
“We were blown away by the support from the crowd, marshalls and even the other runners. Some even came to shake Ollie’s hand at the end, which gave him a real boost.
“It’s a fantastic event, and I hope this encourages more people to take part in the future. The whole event was a massive achievement for everyone taking part on Sunday alongside Ollie.”
Onlookers were deeply moved by Oliver’s run, with the youngster earning many plaudits in person and online – with Hitchin Running Club posting a picture of Oliver and his dad with the words: “Undoubtedly the biggest cheer for a massive achievement. Super proud.”
Supporters unanimously agreed, with one writing: “Truly amazing a cherished memory, never to be taken away. Well done the both of you.”