Paralympics: Britain's Paralympians have been inspired by the success of home athletes at the Olympic Games and are ready to shine, according to the head of Paralympics GB.
Craig Hunter said today that after witnessing a record British medal haul of 65 from London 2012 including 29 golds, the Paralympians are ready to take centre stage themselves and add to the feelgood factor that swept the nation.
The Paralympics begin next Wednesday and Hunter believes more heroics are on the way.
“The mood in the camp is one of excitement and anticipation,” he said.
“Obviously we’ve had a great Olympic Games and that has really inspired our team. We showed them a video of highlights from the Olympics and our athletes are keen to win medals of their own.
“They are really looking forward to being able to contribute to that feeling of excitement that the Olympics generated.”
With a minimum medal haul of 103 — one more than Beijing 2008 — set as the team target by UK Sport, Paralympics GB face a tough challenge, but Hunter is confident the team will deliver.
“I think 103 medals across at least 12 sports is a tough target but a realistic one,” he said.
“It will be a highly competitive Games because levels of interest and of investment among other countries have risen and there are so many emerging nations.
“But it is an opportunity for our athletes and every single sport wants to be up on the podium.”
One of Britain’s frontrunners in the quest for Paralympic gold is cyclist Jon-Allan Butterworth.
The former soldier, who lost his left arm while serving in Basra, Iraq, will contest three Paralympic track titles in London, namely the one-kilometre time trial, four-kilometre pursuit and mixed team sprint.
He will also part in the individual time trial and road race at Brands Hatch and the 26-year-old said: “Hopefully, there will be some good battles on the track and on the road.
“I am going for all of them — five events — and it’s my first Games as well, so there is no pressure!”
Butterworth also talked up the role that spectators have to play at the forthcoming Games, just as they did during the Olympics.
“The crowds are going to be so important in London,” he said.
“When you hear the crowd, it makes you feel different. In an individual competition when a home crowd is cheering for you, it’s just great.”