The London 2012 Paralympics is just over two years away, and one medal hopeful tells Channel 4 News that winning at home would be a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.
Potential Paralympic athletes, their support staff and officials are arriving in Bath to visit their preparation camp.
The camp is “a vital part of the Games for the athletes and is to get everyone going there used to the multi-sport environment,” said Phil Lane, ParalympicsGB‘s chief executive.
“The set-up will replicate as much as we can a Games environment. It is to make them feel comfortable with the pressure and to make them comfortable with the environment,” he added.
Paralympic athlete Helene Raynsford who won gold in the single sculls in Beijing said: “It is quite exciting to be here. As rowers we are really integrated and the Olympic and Paralympic rowers train alongside each other so we don’t really have that much to do with any other Paralympic sport.
“So an occasion like this means we get to meet people from the other sports, we can learn from them, share tips and see how we can all improve our training.”
ParalympicsGB, which is the British Paralympic Association, is planning to send as many as 350 athletes to London 2012 which starts on August 29.
British athletes finished second in the overall medals tables in the last two Paralympics, taking 42 golds in Beijing, and 102 medals overall.
Swimmer Liz Johnson told Channel 4 News that winning at home is her ultimate goal: “Winning in London is a once in a life time opportunity. Not many athletes get a chance to do compete in their home country.”
Johnson, who has cerebral palsy, won medals at Beijing and Athens and gave advice to future athletes: “You have to think about yourself. You get better at that as you get older. When you are young, you try to be nice to everyone and you are very accommodating.
“As you get older, you still get on with everyone and you are friends, but ultimately you have to make the decisions which are best for you.”
As preparations continue for the Paralympics, it has also emerged that doctors are being trained to focus on disability sport. The English Institute of Sport (EIS) revealed that the first group of registrars in Sport and Exercise Medicine who have up to two years’ experience in disability sport are now being deployed.
Paul Davies, head of Paralympic sports science and medicine at the EIS said: “It is a good example of the pull of a home Games. It raises understanding. There is a huge momentum for people to get involved.”