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Britain celebrates countdown to the 2012 Paralympic Games

29 Aug 2011

Britain’s best disability swimmers will be celebrating on the 29th August as the country marks the year-to-go countdown for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

The Paralympic movement began in the UK so the 2012 Games will signal a return to the home of disability sport for the biggest competition that many of the athletes will experience.

London will be the pinnacle of many athletes’ careers but their fate will lie in the qualification meets next spring where they battle for their place to compete in front of the home crowd.

National Performance Director John Atkinson is looking forward to the prospect of seeing his team compete on the biggest sporting stage in the world.

“A home Paralympics is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I know has been a motivating factor for all of our athletes since London was awarded the bid in 2005,” said Atkinson.

“Competing in London and standing on a podium in front of your home crowd are achievements that will stay with someone for the rest of their lives and we have just one more year until the swimmers can turn their dreams into a reality.

“Our athletes have just got back into training after relaxing during the break at the end of the last season and I believe having the home Games in reaching distance will get them training harder and better.

“Our team is mixed with a range of athletes with experience and a number of athletes that will be aiming to compete at their first Games but for all of them the main focus for the next few months will be to get fitness levels up and be prepared to compete well at the qualification events in the spring.”

Double Paralympic Champion Eleanor Simmonds added: “I can’t believe how quickly the year to go until the London Paralympics has come around. I remember being in Beijing like it was yesterday and what happened there changed my life. Coming home with two gold medals was more than I ever expected and I loved the whole competition.

“Competing in front of a home crowd in London will be like nothing I will have experienced and I am so excited to hear the noise from the people in the stands. I think it will send shivers down my spine.”

London-based five-time European Champion Susie Rodgers said: “I was inspired to take swimming seriously again after watching the action at the Beijing Paralympics and seeing what the athletes there achieved. If I make the team for the Games it would be a dream come true.

“I know there is a lot of hard work that will be needed between now and the qualification events but to stand on the blocks in front of a home crowd in my home city would mean more than I can explain right now.”

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