At first glance, they look like any other runners, swimmers or sailors, striving to win a place at London 2012 and do their country proud. But they’ve had extra obstacles to overcome because of their disabilities.
While sports stars such as Jessica Ennis and Tom Daley are household names, our Paralympians have been left in the shade until now. But organisers are confident that this year’s event will be a sell-out for the first time.
More than 4,000 athletes will compete at 20 Paralympic sports in a total of 503 events, with team GB aiming to repeat or improve on Beijing 2008 when they finished second in the medals table behind China.
Training facilities have been improved and, thanks to much-needed funding from the National Lottery, our disabled sportsmen and women can train and prepare as well as their able-bodied counterparts.
Here five Team GB hopefuls tell their stories…
Scott Moorhouse knows all about pain and determination. He was just six weeks old when doctors were forced to amputate his left leg after scalding water was poured over him.
“In one sense, it has helped me and given me determination to succeed,” explains Scott, who is an F42 athlete (leg amputee) and Britain’s number one in the javelin this year after producing a lifetime best throw of 47.33m.
Hero Charlie Walker put his life on the line as an Army bomb disposal officer.
But it wasn’t the Taliban that robbed him of his legs – it was meningitis which he contracted while training for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The disease resulted in both legs being amputated below the knee.
Amy Conroy lost her left leg to cancer more than four years ago. The disease had already claimed her mother’s life, and the pretty blonde resigned herself to the fact that cancer was something which simply “ran in the family”.
When she was diagnosed with the disease, Amy, from Norwich, believed her life was over.
At just 23 years of age, swimmer Claire Cashmore is a veteran of Paralympic campaigns.
She competed in four events at the Beijing Paralympics, winning a bronze medal in the 100m SB8 breaststroke as well as reaching the finals in 100m S9 backstroke, 100m S9 butterfly and 200m SM9 individual medley.
Sailing has been in Hannah Stodel’s blood since childhood.
The 25-year-old from Brightlingsea, Essex, started her life on the water at the age of three.
At 12, she entered her first world championship and by 13 she had sailed alongside Ellen MacArthur, who she cites as one of her biggest inspirations.
And she managed all that despite being born without a lower right arm.
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