sport

Duo hope to inspire others

Two of Britain's gold medallists from the 2012 Paralympic Games believe their success can inspire people with disabilities to take up sport.

Jonnie Peacock, who won T44 100m gold, and 3km individual pursuit cycling gold medal winner Mark Colbourne were both special guests of Paralympic GB's Sports Fest over the past couple of days as 23 summer and winter events were sampled by hundreds of visitors.

Peacock's victory was one of the defining moments of the summer as he beat Oscar Pistorius to win the 100m.

"It is wicked, the medal is there to be shared, that is the way I see it, it is there for everyone," said the 19-year-old.

"I struggle to see myself as an inspiration in all honesty, I don't really see what I have achieved.

"I know so many people who have more amazing stories than me and have done great things, regardless of the scale but it is fantastic if it can make a difference in people's lives, even if it doesn't feel like it to me. The more I can do the better."

Peacock, who is now targeting success in next year's World Championships before moving onto the next Paralympics in Rio, is delighted with the progression of the Games and has vowed to support its development as much as possible.

"To see the Paralympic movement going this way and getting more recognition is fantastic and if anything I can do to bring more recognition I will do it," he said.

"These days are so important, a day like this changed my life and made me accept who I am. Sport has a vital role in life, it can fix so much."

Colbourne, who became a para-cyclist after suffering a near-fatal paragliding accident in 2009, echoed Peacock's comments about the aura surrounding his gold medal but finds the idea of being an inspiration easier to come to terms with than his younger Paralympic GB team-mate.

"These gold medals are almost like magic to lots of people, they get inspired and are also in awe of these medals, we help change people's perception of life because it is never as bad as you think it is," he said.

"I come to a great Sports Fest to not only help motivate people who want to try different sports but also to give something back, certainly to the youngsters, so I can inspire them to do what I have done."

The 43-year-old Colbourne feels that much was done during the summer to promote the idea of ability rather than disability throughout the Paralympics.

"Focus on what you can do, don't worry about what you can't do because it is not going to change," he said.

"This year, certainly the London Paralympics changed the whole perception on disability. If someone has something that is wrong with them you can't change it but look behind that and see the person who is behind that disability, it has bee na great inspiration."

The Welshman was also full of praise for the Sports Fest, hosted at Surrey Sports Park, and believes it is crucial to the future of Paralympic success in Britain.

"It is vital, there is no way this country would have any Paralympic athletes if these kind of days weren't being put on," he said.

"If a thousand children walk through the door one of them could be the next Jonnie Peacock, the next David Weir, the next Mark Colbourne, you just never know."

ParalympicsGB reported over 1,000 people attended the two-day event in Guildford, around 500 more than originally anticipated.