Bailey Matthews couldn’t wait to do the triathlon he had trained so hard for – and wasn’t going to let his cerebral palsy stand in the way of his big moment.
The eight-year-old cast aside his walking frame for the last few metres, falling twice on his way to the finishing line, as he was roared home by the spectators in a video clip that went viral in July.
He had successfully tackled the 100 metre swim, 4km bike ride and 1.3km run that makes up the children’s race of the Castle Howard Triathlon in North Yorkshire.
Bailey recalled: “I couldn’t wait and I kept saying: ‘Is it time yet? Is it time yet?’
“When I was doing the swim I thought: ‘One down, two to go.'”
And the cycling left a lasting impression.
Bailey said: “It wasn’t even flat. It was bumps, bumps, bumps all the way around.”
Taking just under an hour and a half, Bailey was the last to finish, but was roared home by a huge crowd of emotional spectators.
His dad Jonathan recalled: “Once the spectators saw he was in a walking frame that’s probably when they finally clicked on to it being a disabled little boy.”
And Bailey marched onto the Pride of Britain stage unaided on Monday night to collect his Child of Courage award to a huge standing ovation.
And the audience at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel roared in unison as host Carol Vorderman urged them to chant his catchphrase: “Be more Bailey”.
The youngster, who has cerebral palsy, then raised his hands in joy and told the star-studded audience: “Get seated. NOW.”
And the eight-year-old left the delighted crowd in stitches when he added: “Last night my mum was out drinking”.
The video showing Bailey crossing the finishing line moved the audience to tears as his proud dad said: “Where as a child would get up onto their knees and crawl it was as if Bailey couldn’t do that so he would just use his arms to drag himself around.”
He added: “He’s our inspiration. Bailey is always pushing himself on to the next hurdle, the next challenge he’s set himself. There’s nothing he doesn’t think he can do.
“We’re so used to him being who he is that it’s easy to not realise what a remarkable boy he is. Tonight has reminded us quite how amazing and determined Bailey is.”
He was presented with his award by some of Britain’s greatest athletes, Tom Daley, Rebecca Adlington, Greg Rutherford and Victoria Pendleton.
Greg Rutherford said: “If my son is half the boy you are, I will be very proud.”
Diver Tom Daley added: “It is amazing what he has achieved.
“When you strive to achieve something against what he has had to go through it’s just amazing.”
David Beckham made a point of meeting Bailey backstage, telling him: “That’s a fantastic suit.”
And when Bailey told him he supported Doncaster Rovers, Beckham said: “That’s fantastic, what a great team.”
Born nine weeks premature, Bailey was first diagnosed with cerebral palsy – a neurological condition that affects movement and speech – at the age of 18 months.
But he has always refused to let his illness get in his way.
Mum Julie says: “Nothing stands in Bailey’s way. Things like getting dressed are hard. Day-to-day, he does struggle but it doesn’t bother him.
“At school he joins in with the same things as everyone else – he has never been excluded from anything – he just adapts.”
Julie has been stunned by the global reaction to Bailey’s triathlon feat.
She says: “We never thought the video would go as big as it did. The triathlon was just a personal little challenge for Bailey.
“The comments on Facebook and the internet were really overwhelming and lovely.
“Because we know Bailey, when he says he is going to do something, he does it – and it may not always be in the conventional way.
“It wasn’t a surprise to us that he did it because that’s what he set out to do. I certainly didn’t expect the reaction we got from the world. Bailey has loved it all.”
Jonathan says: “It was amazing. On the day of the triathlon Bailey just pushed it and pushed it and carried on.
“He loved it. You can see that towards the end he was knackered until the spectators gave him a new lease of life – it pushed him.”
Julie adds: “A lot of children and adults say, ‘I’m not going to do that because I don’t want to look an idiot’. People miss out, but Bailey doesn’t have that thought in his head at all.
“We have never told him he can’t do anything. Nothing is ever a no because if he believes he can do it, there is no reason why he can’t.”