Wales

Teenager with cerebral palsy dreams of surfing for Wales

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Media captionEthan surfs at Caswell Bay in Swansea

A 13-year-old surfer is facing a £3,000 bill to compete for Wales because there is "not enough backing" for disabled surfers.

Ethan Jolosa has diplegic cerebral palsy and is eligible to compete for Wales at the World Adaptive Surfing Championship later this year.

Charity Surfability said adaptive surfers must fully fund travel costs and accommodation for competitions.

Disability Sport Wales says it is committed to helping athletes.

Ethan, from Cwmbran, Torfaen, took up surfing just 14 months ago after a series of life-changing operations which cost his mother £40,000 over a seven-month period.

His mother Leah said without the operations he "wouldn't have been able to surf".

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Ethan's (left) came second in the prone category at the English Open

Ethan trained throughout the winter in preparation for the English Open in Cornwall, where he came second in the prone category.

He and his mother aim to go surfing twice a week and the journey from his home to lessons in Caswell Bay, Swansea, can sometimes be up to a three-hour round trip.

But now Surfability has warned a lack of funding may stop surfers like Ethan from being able to compete.

Surfing is making its debut at the 2020 Olympic Games, however adaptive surfing is not yet a recognised Paralympic sport.

Some money is made available by Disability Sport Wales for their entry fee but outside of this surfers must entirely self-fund their travel and accommodation to events such as the World Adaptive Surfing Championship in La Jolla, California, later this year.

Fiona Reid, CEO for Disability Sport Wales said: "Where performance athletes, or athletes with potential are concerned, Disability Sport Wales works with partners to support individuals progress through the pathway."

"Where the provision of financial support isn't possible, we work innovatively with partners to identify what support there is and how best to unlock it."

She added that although Para Surfing will not be part of the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, "there is some great - and growing - opportunity for inclusive surfing in Wales".

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption His mother, Leah, fundraised £40,000 over a 7 month period for a series of life changing operations

Llywelyn Williams, 23, from Abersoch, Gwynedd, has competed at the World Championship but said the financial commitment of surfing at that level can be overwhelming.

He said: "The funding opportunities out there aren't fantastic, it's expensive to get to these competitions.

"When I went to my first World Championship I had to crowdfund just over £1,000 for flights and accommodation."

Mr Williams had his right leg amputated in 2011 after being struck by a car while skateboarding.

He finished fifth in the World Championship in California last year, beating the world number one in the quarter-finals.

Image caption Llewellyn Williams had to fundraise online to get to the World Championships last year

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