Lower Hutt boy disqualified from sprint competition for running in bare feet

Wellesley College student Henry Patterson, 10, was disqualified from a Lower Hutt athletics race for running in bare feet.
ATHLETICS WELLINGTON/JO MURRAY

Wellesley College student Henry Patterson, 10, was disqualified from a Lower Hutt athletics race for running in bare feet.

A mother has been left fuming after her son was disqualified from a Lower Hutt athletics tournament for running in bare feet.

Organisers say it was to protect the 10-year-old's toes from spiked shoes, and to maintain an equal playing field. But the decision has attracted criticism from some of our Olympic running greats.

Wellesley College Year five student Henry Patterson was disqualified from competing in the final of the 80-metre sprint at an inter-zone primary school competition in central Lower Hutt this month.

Kiwi Olympic running great Sir John Walker says he ran in bare feet until he was 17 and other kids should be allowed too ...
LAWRENCE SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Kiwi Olympic running great Sir John Walker says he ran in bare feet until he was 17 and other kids should be allowed too as well.

Earlier in the day he had earned selection with a solid performance in bare feet.

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Henry's mum, Andrena Patterson, said she felt sad that not being aware of the "shoe rule" had prevented her son from running in the final, where it was "almost certain he would have either finished first or second".

Double Olympic medalist in the 1500m Nick Willis says running and walking in bare feet for kids has huge advantages in ...
INPHO/PHOTOSPORT

Double Olympic medalist in the 1500m Nick Willis says running and walking in bare feet for kids has huge advantages in their development for their running stride.

The family were not aware of the rule until Henry was told to get some shoes at the start line.

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

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

Wellesley College principal Brendan Pitman backed the boy and contested the fairness of the decision.

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Lower Hutt School Sports Association spokesman Neil Sargisson said the rule was there to help protect kids' feet from spiked shoes because young runners sometimes struggled to stick to their lanes.

The higher regional grade of competition did not allow bare feet, so the rule also brought continuity, he said.

"Everybody's going to have an opinion on whether or not kids can run in shoes or not. The rule on that day is because most run in shoe 500

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