A 9-year-old Special Olympics swimmer was disqualified from winning the gold medal because he "swam too fast."
Belfast Live reports that Rory Logan, who is on the autism spectrum, was swimming at the Special Olympics Regional finals in Northern Ireland but was disqualified from winning his 50 meter final after judges declared he swam too fast.
Despite being the youngest competitor in the race, Rory crushed the competition and won the race with a personal best of 53.1 seconds. But judges handed Rory a participation ribbon instead of a medal.
When his mother, Briony, asked why, officials told her it was because Rory swam too fast.
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"I went to speak to the officials and basically they said he had been disqualified because he swam too fast. No one can get over this decision,” Briony said. "Apparently you can't be more than 15 percent faster than the time you swam in your heats just in case you are trying to swim slower in your heat to be placed in a lower division's final. Rory swam 15.8 percent faster than his heat but someone please explain to me how a 9-year-old child would think of doing that or being that calculating.”
Briony added, “I’m the first to admit Rory can be quite lazy when it comes to training, however, he is very competitive and the minute he saw those medals he just went for it. If he had a false start or didn't touch the wall and had been disqualified I wouldn't have had a problem. He was technically perfect because one of the officials told me that, so basically he was penalized for being focused. I thought the whole idea of sport is to develop and improve but it seems to me that if you work hard and are competitive you are penalized."
Briony considered withdrawing her son from the remainder of the finals, but she let him compete and Rory won gold for both the relay and the 25 meter races.
Briony said: "Rory swims with mainstream swimmers at Coleraine Swimming Club three times a week as well as being a member of the Causeway Coast Special Olympics Club. He loves to swim and is so proud of himself when he does well. Rory is a good swimmer and it's something he has for himself that he can excel in and now he is being put down for trying hard.”
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She added: "I am so gutted for Rory, if he had been beaten fair and square there wouldn't be an issue but how do you explain to a nine-year-old child that he could miss out on something he was aiming for simply because he swam too fast!"
Rory’s disqualification may mean that he misses out on competing in the All-Ireland Special Olympics according to the Mirror. The Special Olympics has so far declined to comment on the situation.