Rio Woolf, an eight year old boy with a passion for the Paralympics, is the first in the UK and Ireland as well as the youngest to be fitted by Dorset Orthopaedic with the 1E93 Runner junior; a new junior running blade made by Ottobock.
New Ottobock and Dorset Orthopaedic ambassador Rio, who is also known as Blade Boy Rio, is keen to follow in the footsteps of his heroes like Jonnie Peacock, Richard Whitehead and Alan Fonteles Oliveira and hopes to one day take part in the Paralympics. With his new Runner Junior blade Rio will be able to perfect his running technique and work towards his dream.
“I’m so excited to get my new running blade – it’s going to be super-amazing and it will help me to run even faster on the track and in the playground, and I’ll be even quicker on the tennis court and on the football pitch so I’ll be able to score more goals! It’s super-cool to have a bendy blade for the first time which means I will be able to run better than I ever have before!”
Known for its pioneering mobility solutions Ottobock has designed a carbon fibre running blade suitable for active children up to the age of approximately 13 years or to a maximum weight of 45kg. The blade is lightweight and robust providing a powerful drive and a stable turning point. It has been coupled with an all-terrain, anti-skid sole that allows for running on different terrains – from grass fields to tartan running tracks.
Philip Yates, Managing Director at Ottobock said:
“This is our first junior blade and we are really pleased that we will be able to offer children the opportunity to run with a blade. We want to see children lead full and active lives and hope that the Government’s £500,000 funding which was ring fenced for ‘child sports prosthesis’ will be taken advantage of.
“While the funding at this point will only ensure 500 children have the chance to run, it is a start, and we implore the Government to take note of the importance of getting children active and ensure future funding so all children are offered the chance to be able to run with their peers.”
Rio received his first running blade for Christmas in 2012 from Dorset Orthopaedic. This gave Rio a better quality of life as he could join in with all the activities that a four year old enjoys. He is now of a size which means he is able to be fitted with a knee joint, and an Ottobock 3S80 sports knee along with the new Runner Junior blade was selected for him.
Matthew Hughes, Clinical Services Development Director at Dorset Orthopaedic, who fitted Rio with his blade said:
“Rio didn’t have a knee joint before on his running leg as he wasn’t big enough. This meant that when he ran he would swing his leg out to clear the ground. Now Rio has been fitted with a knee joint he runs with a more natural stride, improving his symmetry of movement and reducing stresses and strains on his body.”
Rio was born with a one-in-a-million bone deficiency in his lower right leg which meant his tibia, knee and ankle joint was missing. Rio’s parents, Juliette and Trevor, were told that he would need a through-knee amputation. Rio underwent the operation at 14 months and was fitted with his first prosthetic leg at 17 months.
Rio’s mother Juliette Woolf said:
“We’re so happy that Rio is finally tall enough to be fitted with a knee-jointed running blade. We’ve been waiting a long time for him to grow to the right height! It’s absolutely fantastic to see him running with a ‘Bendy Blade’ (as he calls it) for the very first time. He’s adapted so well and so quickly to this new more natural style of running.
“His new Ottobock blade has not only greatly improved his running technique in just a few test runs at Dorset Orthopaedic, but it’s also reassuring for us, as parents, to know that the knee-jointed blade gives our son the best chance of keeping his hips healthy and strong for the future by reducing the impact on them.
“It’s a huge honour for Rio to be the first in the UK and Ireland and the youngest child to be fitted with Ottobock’s new junior running blade and we’re extremely grateful to Ottobock and to Dorset Orthopaedic for all their support for Rio. They have not just enabled Rio but have actually empowered him to live the most active life possible in pursuit of his Paralympic dreams!”
Rio has been personally invited to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games as a special guest by Andrew Parsons the President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee. Rio will be able to see his heroes in action this September where he’ll be proudly showing off his new blade with its custom-designed hand-painted socket which Rio had requested to be a replica of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Torch.
Rio will be trying out his new blade at The Great Newham London Family 2km Run on 17 July in the Olympic Park where he has been invited to be an Honorary Starter. He will have the chance to run in the ‘blade steps’ of his Paralympic heroes and to be the first to run on the new track; the same type as the one being used in Rio. Rio will also run on the track before Mo Farah, Jonnie Peacock and the other Olympians and Paralympians who will be running on it at The Anniversary Games the following weekend. There is no stopping this committed and high-spirited boy; he is definitely one to watch.