In case you haven’t picked up a paper, turned on your TV or been outside for the last few weeks, in just three days’ time the world’s greatest disabled athletes will be taking to the stage for London 2012’s Paralympics. As we all know, the Olympics were an astonishing success for Team GB’s women; victories, heroism, raised profile – we saw the lot and are still basking in the glory for at least 1 hour a day. But with the Armitsteads, Pendletons, Gibbonses, Hoskings and Copelands (amongst many, many, many others) currently enjoying the post-Games adulation, who should we be looking to in the Paralympic Games to match their Olympic achievements? Here’s our pick of just a few of the brilliant female athletes that we’ll hope to see standing atop a medal podium over the next few weeks and as ever, we’d love to know your thoughts too…..
T37 100m / 200m / 4 x 100m Relay
First up is sprint athlete Katrina Hart. Hart competes in the T37 classification (broadly defined as cerebral palsy down one side of the body) athletics and is something of a veteran within Parasport Team GB having competed internationally since 2005 when she was the youngest member of the British team at the European Championships.
Her Paralympic debut in 2008 ended in extreme disappointment when a hamstring injury limited her to a 7th place finish in the 100m. Having since won a gold and double bronze at the World Championships in New Zealand last year, and double bronze in this year’s European championships, Hart will hope to add a Paralympic medal to her impressive career haul.
C5 Individual Pursuit/C4-5 500m Time Trial/C5 Road Time Trial/C4-5 Road Race
Sarah Storey is Parasport royalty. After an already-successful Paralympic swimming career between 1992 and 2004 which yielded 16 medals, including at least one medal from her début to her final swimming Games in 2004 and two golds in her first Games at the age of 14. Having been kept out of the pool due to a severe ear infection in 2005, Storey turned to the bike to maintain her fitness levels.
A natural cyclist, Storey made the move to the sport in time to join the GB Team in 2005, competing in her first non-swimming Paralympic Games in 2008. Returning with gold medals in both Individual Pursuit and Road Time Trial, Storey’s winning time on the track would have gained her a 7th place finish in the Olympic finals in Beijing. After narrowly missing out on being able to compete as part of Team GB at the Olympics this year, Storey is ready to dominate both the track and road cycling competition in the Paralympics. London 2012 may well be Sarah Storey’s final Paralympic Games; to see her top the podium again would be a wonderful crowning achievement.
CS and FQ