sport

Paralympians set tough target

UK Sport have set Paralympics GB the target of winning at least 103 medals from at least 12 different sports.

The overall goal is to once again finish second in the medal table.

Britain's Paralympic campaign for London 2012 has been backed by more than 49million of funding over the last four years, with money being distributed to 18 different sports.

The overall Paralympics GB medal range is set between 95 and 145, with 16 sports targeting podium success.

Britain won 102 medals, including 42 golds, in Beijing four years ago to claim second place for a third consecutive Paralympic Games.

Retaining that position, but winning more medals than in Beijing, is seen by UK Sport as a bold ambition given how competitive the Paralympic Games will be.

Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, said: "Retaining second place on the medal table for the past three Paralympic Games has been a notable achievement for British athletes, especially given the ever-increasing competitive nature of Paralympic sport worldwide.

"With more countries investing time and resource into Paralympic sport and therefore contributing to the medal table, maintaining this standard of achievement in London should not be underestimated.

"The collective targets of all the Paralympic sports announced today show us that our Paralympians are in a great position to deliver more magical and inspirational performances to keep the overwhelming sense of national pride in Great Britain at an all-time high.

"Our Paralympians are among the best prepared and supported in the world; with cutting edge technology, science and medical support, excellent coaching, and the support of our enthusiastic home crowds, they are sure to be a force to be reckoned with on home turf."

As an indication of the competition for second place, Britain and the United States in fourth place were separated by just six gold medals in Beijing.

Britain are expected to deliver approximately one medal for every hour of competition in the Paralympics, with between 40 and 50 of them in the swimming pool.

The athletics target is between 17 and 30 medals, with cycling aiming for between 15 and 23.

Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of the British Paralympic Association, believe the targets set by UK Sport are realistic.

"ParalympicsGB is going into these home Games better prepared through the support of the National Lottery than ever before and we are ready to give everything to achieve our target of second in the medal table," he said.

"Equally important is the fantastic news that our athletes will be competing in full venues.

"Winning medals in front of an excited home crowd will give us a great platform to help shift perceptions of Paralympic sport and ensure that our athletes get the recognition they deserve."

The Paralympics begin on August 29 and Baroness Sue Campbell, the chair of UK Sport, believes they will have a profound effect on the country.

"The Paralympians really display what I call the best of the human spirit. You are watching athletic excellence but you are also watching something very special about who we are as people," she said.

"The Paralympics is an opportunity to change people's mindset about disability sport and about disability.

"If the Olympics gave us an unbelievable sense of national unity and pride, I hope the Paralympics will add to that and I hope it will give us a strong sense of community inclusion and an acceptance of everybody in our society being able to achieve excellence in whatever they want to do."