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The Paralympic Games… 1000 days to go

03 Dec 2009 10:10

While the British Gas Disability Swimming Team are competing at the IPC Swimming World Championships (25m) in Rio de Janeiro, the countdown to the London 2012 Paralympic Games hits the 1,000 days mark.

In Beijing. the 36 ParalympicsGB swimmers contributed to making the 2008 Games Britain’s most successful ever, securing 11 gold, 12 silver and 18 bronze medals in the pool.

As we look towards London hosting the Paralympic Games for the first time, the British Gas Disability swimmers share their thoughts on the prospect of competing in Stratford in 1,000 days time.

Six-time Paralympic gold medallist and world record holder Sascha Kindred has enjoyed a successful career since making his international debut in 1994. Having won numerous gold medals on the world stage, Kindred will be looking to add to his medal haul in London where he can perform in front of a home crowd: 

“It’s going to be amazing to have the Games on home soil. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for athletes and to think that I may get the opportunity is exciting,” said Kindred.

“I remember watching the announcement on TV and just thinking ‘wow, I could be competing at the Paralympic Games in London’.

“It’s made me want to train harder. Every year we have the Paralympic World Cup in Britain and the home crowd is amazing and just lifts us.

“Competing in the final in Beijing there were three Chinese athletes in the race with me and the crowd just went nuts for them! Everyone loves a winner, especially the British, so hopefully everyone will come out to support us.”

In 2008 Eleanor Simmonds emerged from the Beijing Paralympic Games as the stand-out performer of the squad. Taking home two gold medals and a world record for her efforts, the then 13-year-old became Britain’s youngest ever individual gold medallist at a Paralympic Games. With a number of important meets between now and then, her focus still remains on the 2012: “Having the Paralympic Games in London is going to be really exciting,” said Simmonds.

“When I competed at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester it was really good to swim in front of the home crowd and it made me realise what the atmosphere is going to be like in London. In Beijing I remember seeing lots of British fans cheering us on and it just made me want to swim faster for them, so I expect that London 2012 is going to be amazing.

“I went to visit the Olympic Park in Stratford earlier this year and that’s given me lots of motivation to keep training hard. I hope the new Aquatics Centre is going to be the place where I might get a few more Paralympic medals.”

Lizzie Simpkin is one of the youngest and most exciting members of the team that is London-bound. Having competed in Beijing at just 14 years of age the Southport swimmer took away a wealth of experience as she reached the finals of the 100m Backstroke (S9) and 100m Butterfly (S9) and hopes to improve on this in time for 2012:

“I know how good it was out in Beijing with all of the Chinese athletes so it should be really exciting to have it in London where all of my friends and family can come and watch me.

“It’s definitely made me want to train harder so I can perform at my best. Everything is going well in training and I’m picking things up well so I should be prepared for London.”

National Performance Director Tim Reddish believes that his squad is looking in good form and the athletes are on target to be at their best in just under three years time:

“We have built on what we learnt in Beijing,” Reddish said. “This is year one in our four year cycle and this year has been about getting the basics right. I believe this is important to a successful four year cycle. We have seen athletes progress at major Championships this year which has been pleasing.

“The next few years are going to be about developing essentials and building on our basics and we want to see progression from this year to next. This will be the basis of our work towards London 2012.”

David Sparkes, Chief Executive of British Swimming, has enjoyed seeing the success of the British Gas Disability Team in recent years and believes that London will be no different: “I am sure as our athletes compete with the best in the World in Rio de Janeiro their minds will be focused on success in London 1,000 days from now,” said Sparkes.

“The Paralympic team recently dominated the European Championships in Iceland and their preparations to compete in the fabulous new Aquatics Centre are on track.”

-ENDS-

For further details contact Lauren Sanderson, British Swimming Media Assistant, on 01509 632236 or email lauren.sanderson@swimming.org.

About British Swimming
British Swimming is the National Governing Body for Swimming, Diving, Synchronised Swimming, Water Polo and Open Water in Great Britain.  It is responsible internationally for the high performance representation of the sport. The members of British Swimming are the three Home Countries national governing bodies of England (ASA), Scotland (Scottish ASA) and Wales. (Welsh ASA)  British Swimming seeks to enable its athletes to achieve gold medal success at the Olympics, Paralympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games.

About British Gas
British Gas is Britain's favourite domestic energy supplier. As well as providing gas and electricity, it also installs and maintains central heating and gas appliances in millions of homes throughout the country. British Gas is very proud to be the principal partner of British Swimming and home countries: The ASA, Scottish Swimming and Swim Wales. British Gas is supporting the team's quest for medals on the world and Olympic stage - and giving as many people as possible the opportunity to learn to swim and use swimming as part of a healthy lifestyle. British Gas wants to ensure local pools remain at the heart of our communities. By using its expertise, it can help them reduce costs by being more energy efficient and safeguard the facilities for this and future generations. For more information visit www.britishgas.co.uk/swimming

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