Bridgend's Thomas ia amongst the first athletes selected for 2012
Paul Dancey on 08/08/2011
With just over a year to go to the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games, the British Paralympic Association (BPA) today announced the selection of the first athletes who will compete for Great Britain at London 2012.
The athletes are the first named members of the British team to achieve selection and are the first athletes to be officially selected for either ParalympicsGB or Team GB.
The five athletes who will compete in the British team in sailing are:
John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas – Sonar (three-person keelboat event)
Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell – SKUD 18 (two-person keelboat event)
Stephen Thomas, from Bridgend, said: "It's fantastic to be representing Great Britain for another Games and it's great to be selected early. We'll enjoy the moment, but for us, it's all part of the process and our big focus needs to be on making the boat go faster over the 12 months.
"We've not yet won a Paralympic medal and for the last few years we've not managed to win a gold at the World Championships, so we'll have that in the locker and will be using that as motivation to strive for gold next year.
"When I think about the possibility of winning a medal at next year's Games and the thought of standing on the podium, it brings a tear to my eye. For it to have that kind of emotional response just shows how much it means to me, and that's why we'll be giving it everything we've got to try and make that a dream a reality next year."
Stephen Park, Olympic Manager at the Royal Yachting Association, said: "Over the past three years we've been trying hard to move our sailors forward from being medal possibles to medal probables, These two selected teams have managed to deliver consistent medal-winning performances that gave the RYA's Paralympic Selection Committee great confidence in their early nomination.
"From a team management perspective, early nomination now allows the sailors to optimise their programme over the next 12 months such that the goal of winning medals at the London 2012 Games is not compromised by any of the expectations, restrictions or commitments that exist through the selection process."
Chief Executive of the BPA, Tim Hollingsworth, said: "This is a very exciting moment in the build-up to London: the selection of the first athletes who will represent this country in 2012 really brings it home that the Games are just around the corner.
"I am delighted that the first athletes to achieve this honour are being selected to ParalympicsGB. They have worked very hard over many years to achieve this and I hope the nation will join me in congratulating them now and supporting them in a year’s time on the water at Weymouth and Portland."
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