Paralympic squad named amid high hopes
UK Athletics Paralympic head coach Peter Eriksson believes the squad is in a far better place than it was four years ago.
Great Britain ended the Beijing Games with just two gold medals – both from David Weir – as they finished 18th in the athletics medal table.
Things have improved vastly since then and the British Paralympic Association yesterday announced its 49-strong athletics squad for London 2012 – one which Eriksson has backed to impress.
“I think we have a very good chance of moving up the standings from 2008,” the Swede said, speaking 50 days ahead of the Paralympics’ opening ceremony.
“That has always been our goal. To end up in the top eight of the national standings, to get between five and eight gold medals, and 25 to 28 medals in total.
“However, I think we will do even better than that but that remains to be seen. I think we are in a great situation, where we have at least ten world record holders over the past one and a half years going into the Games. I don’t think that has ever happened before and we have a young team too, with over fifty per cent newcomers to the Games.”
Eriksson has quickly helped change the British team’s fortunes since his appointment as UK Athletics’ Paralympic head coach in 2008. That transformation was epitomised at last year’s World Championships, where Britain finished third in the medal table with 38. Asked what the secret of success was, Eriksson said: “I think it is the integration we have done with the Olympics side when it comes to the coaching, the support, the training centres.
“That ups the expectations of the athletes and I think that is the key to them moving forward.”
No fewer than 28 athletes will make their Paralympic debut in London, while there are eight medallists from Beijing in the athletics squad.
The team features a number of experienced track and field campaigners, including three-time F32 club throw gold medallist Stephen Miller and multiple F34 shot putt and discus medallist Dan West.
Tracey Hinton, a double gold medallist in the T11 100m and 200m at the recent IPC Athletics European Championships, celebrates her sixth Paralympics, while Weir is selected for his fourth Games.
Hannah Cockroft, the T34 double world champion in the 100/200m and multiple world record holder, is among the athletes making their Paralympic debuts.
T36 1500m world record holder and world 400m champion Paul Blake is another making their Games debut, as is Jonnie Peacock, who is included after breaking Oscar Pistorius’ T44 world record at the end of June.
Josie Pearson and Richard Whitehead make their Games debuts in athletics, having represented Britain in wheelchair rugby and ice sledge hockey respectively.
Ola Abidogun (Steve Thomas): T46 100/200m (age: 18); Jonathan Adams (Jim Edwards): F34 shot putt (19); Graeme Ballard (Steve Thomas): T36 100/200m (33); Paul Blake (Rob Ellchuk): T36 400/800m (22); Mickey Bushell (Fred Periac): T53 100/200m (22); Jamie Carter (Jenny Archer): T34 100/200m; Aled Davies (Anthony Hughes): F42 shot putt/discus (21); Derek Derenalagi (Alison O’Riordan): F57 discus (37); David Devine (Brian Scobie): T12 800/1500/5000m (20); Kyron Duke (Anthony Hughes): F40 javelin/shot putt (19); Dan Greaves (Jim Edwards): F44 discus (29); Jordan Howe (Jane Coia): T35 100/200m (16); Rhys Jones (Jane Coia): T37 100/200m (18); Andy Kaar (self-coached): T20 1500m; Dean Miller (Bud Baldaro): T37 1500m (22); Stephen Miller (Ros Miller): F32 club throw (32); Steve Morris (Chris Moss): T20 1500m; Scott Moorhouse (Dan Pfaff): F42 javelin (23); Stephen Osborne (Peter Eriksson): T51 100m; Jonnie Peacock (Dan Pfaff): T44 100m (19); Sam Ruddock (Joseph McDonnell): T35 100/200m; Ben Rushgrove (Rob Ellchuk): T36 100/200m (24); Nathan Stephens (Anthony Hughes): F57 javelin (24); Kieran Tscherniawsky (Jim Edwards): F33 discus (20); David Weir (Jenny Archer): T54 800/1500/5000/marathon (33); Dan West (Jim Edwards): F34 shot putt (age: 34; born: Cambridge; lives: Nottingham); Richard Whitehead (Liz Yelling/Keith Antoine): T42 100/200m (35); Rob Womack (coach TBC): F55 shot putt.
Hollie Arnold (Anthony Hughes): F46 javelin (age: 18); Olivia Breen (Leroy Elliott): T38 100/200/4x100m relay (16); Sally Brown (Philip Tweedie): T46 100/200m (17); libby Clegg (Keith Antoine): T12 100/200m (22); Hannah Cockroft (Peter Eriksson): T34 100/200m (20); Katrina Hart (Rob Ellchuk): T37 100/200/4x100m relay (22); Tracey Hinton (Darrell Maynard): T11 100/200m; (42); Bev Jones (John Parker): F37 discus/shot putt (37); Jade Jones (Ian Thompson/Tanni Grey-Thompson): T54 400m/800m/1500m (16); Sophie Kamlish (Rob Ellchuk): T44 100/200m; Jenny McLoughlin (Darrell Maynard): T37 100/200/4x100m relay (20:); Maxine Moore (Alison O’Riordan): F32 club throw; Mel Nicholls (Job King): T34 100/200m; Josie Pearson (Anthony Hughes): F51 discus/club throw; (26); Gemma Prescott (Michael Woods): F32 shot putt/club throw; Stef Reid (Keith Antoine): T44 100/200m/F44 long jump (27); Hazel Robson (Janice Kaufman): T36 100/200/4x100m relay (32); Sophia Warner (Steve King): T35 100/200/4x100m relay (38); Claire Williams (Jim Edwards): F12 discus; (24); Shelly Woods (Peter Eriksson): T54 800/1500/5000/marathon (26); Bethy Woodward (Jonas Dodoo): T37 200/4x100m relay (19).
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