Boy, 10, disqualified from race for running barefoot

Henry Patterson, 10, was disqualified from an inter-zone race in Lower Hutt for running barefoot. Photo/ Jo Murray
Henry Patterson, 10, was disqualified from an inter-zone race in Lower Hutt for running barefoot. Photo/ Jo Murray

A Wellington mother is furious her son was disqualified from running barefoot from an inter-school event but a local sporting body says it agrees with the school's decision.

Wellesley College student Henry Patterson, 10, was disqualified from competing in the final of the 80m sprint at the Lower Hutt inter-zone competition this month.

Organisers told Fairfax the decision was made to protect the Year Five student's toes from spiked shoes, and to maintain an equal playing field.

Earlier in the day he had earned his place in the final after running in bare feet.

His mum, Andrena Patterson, said she felt sad her son had missed out because he hadn't been aware of the "no shoes" rule.

"To allow a child to run where he would have qualified on merit, and then disqualify him is cruel and inhumane," Patterson told Fairfax.

"We haven't broken criminal law here, it's a children's race and we should be encouraging them to participate."

A Lower Hutt School Sports Association spokesman said the rule was there to help protect kids' feet from spiked shoes.

Athletics Wellington director Jo Murray told the Herald she could understand that decision, though she also understood why Henry's mum would be upset.

"You've got a whole truckload of kids at a park, running around between events," she said.

"It's not a rule that we [Athletics Wellington] enforce but I can understand why schools have those rulings."

Murray said the decision, which was made by teachers running the inter-school primary competition on top of their normal duties, would have been about health and safety.

"It's always unfortunate when a kid misses out, but they've obviously just had the rule and made the decision."

Kids were allowed to run barefoot at various other events, including ones hosted by Athletics Wellington and at the Colgate Games, Murray said.

- NZ Herald

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