By DAVID WILKES
Like many little boys, four-year-old Rio Woolf dreams of following in the footsteps of his sporting idols.
And his chances of achieving that ambition have taken a giant leap forward – thanks to some help from his biggest hero.
A delighted Rio received a hi-tech running blade for Christmas after Britain’s Paralympic sprint champion Jonnie Peacock heard of his plight.
‘I really love my new special leg,’ he said. ‘Now I can run about and do lots of things I’ve never done before.’
Rio, from Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, was born without a shinbone, knee or ankle joint, and had his lower right leg amputated at 14 months.
He was originally fitted with a rigid NHS prosthetic limb, but it slowed him down when he ran. Peacock, 19, who won 100m gold and broke the Paralympic record at the London Games this summer, put Rio’s parents in touch with experts at a prosthetic limbs clinic after meeting the family at an event.
Dorset Orthopaedic, based in Ringwood, Hampshire, offered to help for free after watching a video of Rio running. Now there’s a spring in his step after the £4,000 lightweight carbon-fibre blade – decorated with his favourite character Fireman Sam – was fitted on Christmas Eve.
His parents Trevor, 47, a bathroom fitter, and Juliette, 44, are equally overjoyed.
Mrs Woolf said: ‘It’s a dream come true for Rio and is the perfect Christmas present. He is over the moon and very excited and after it was fitted he couldn’t stop jumping up and down.
‘He’s been so captivated watching people running in the Paralympics with their “special legs”, as he calls them, and now he can run too.