Northern Ireland news

Zoe Rainey (12) smashes personal best to complete charity hand cycle challenge

Zoe Rainey completed several laps of the Mary Peters Track in Belfast yesterday using her new hand cycle. Picture by Hugh Russell

A 12-year-old girl with complex disabilities has smashed her personal best to complete 11 laps of a Belfast athletics track and raise thousands of pounds for charity.

Zoe Rainey was joined by Olympic gold medallist Lady Mary Peters yesterday as she lapped the Mary Peters Track in the south of the city.

Using her new hand cycle, Zoe finished the 4.4km challenge in an impressive 50 minutes.

Although she had only ever cycled 2.1km before, the determined schoolgirl refused to take a break and powered through her challenge.

Zoe, from Dollingstown near Lurgan, challenged herself to take part in the #PassTheTorch drive to raise funds for the Mary Peters Trust - a charity which supports future sporting champions.

Various friends and family, including her grandparents, helped support Zoe by joining her on some of her laps.

The Fleming Fulton pupil has so far raised £2,400 for the Trust - well in excess of her target of £500.

With further donations due to be added, she is expected to raise more than £3,000.

Speaking before yesterday's event, Zoe said: "I am paralysed below my belly button and have spina bifida, hydrocephalus, epilepsy, scoliosis and use a Bi-PAP ventilator at night to help me breathe – but none of that stops me loving life."

She said her personal motto is 'never give up'.

"I love being active and doing my weekly training sessions with my physiotherapists, Steph and Louise and hope to raise as much as possible to help young athletes," she said.

Next year will mark 50 years since Lady Mary's Olympic pentathlon gold at Munich in 1972.

The athlete said Zoe was "an inspiration" and thanked her for raising money towards the trust.

"We really appreciate her contribution and that of everyone who has participated," she said.

"We’re thrilled with the response to date and hope that people are enjoying picking up the torch on behalf of the Mary Peters Trust to help develop the sporting talents of our young people and future champions."


Donations to Zoe's appeal can be made via

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