- 6 Sep 08, 09:59 AM
When it comes to potential British medallists at the Beijing Paralympics, it is hard to go beyond swimmer Dave Roberts and wheelchair racer Dave Weir.
Both are at the top of their respective fields and are in China with key roles to play in ParalympicsGB's potential medal haul at the Games.
Roberts, who is at his third Games, has a chance to beat Tanni Grey-Thompson's haul of 11 Paralympic golds while Weir, who is also at his third Games, wants to cement his reputation as the world's top wheelchair racer when he chases five golds.
Roberts' gold tally currently stands at seven while Weir, despite dominating wheelchair racing for the past three years, only has Paralympic silver and bronze from Athens to his name - he seems certain to put that right that over the next 11 days.
"The feeling of winning a Paralympic medal is the best in the world," said Roberts. "There is nothing like having a gold medal put around your neck.
"You know what it means to everyone - your coach, your family and yourself and it is very special."
Roberts, from Cardiff, will compete in three individual events - the S7 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and 400m freestyle and be hoping for three in a row in the 50 and 100m events and could also feature in a couple of relays.
"I'm probably looking forward to these Games more than the others," he added. "It is stepping into the unknown but the Olympics were awe-inspiring and it looks like a fast pool."
Roberts has already geared his training towards competing at the Water Cube, where he begins his campaign on Monday.
"It is an unusual pool because it is three metres deep and the deeper the pool, the less you feel like you are moving which could be an issue when you are racing," he admitted.
"I've trained in a five-metre deep diving pit at the pool where I train in Swansea and although the times are fast, my body and my mind say no!
"I don't try to think of expectations. I am here to do a job and enjoy myself. If I hit the targets I have set for myself, I will be happy but I'm not saying what those targets are."
Weir, 29, faces an even busier schedule in his five events - the T54 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m and marathon with 14 races in nine days.
He made his Paralympic debut in Atlanta as a 17-year-old but then took a break from the sport, missing Sydney in 2000 before returning for Athens four years ago.
Since then, he has won three world championship golds and also completed three consecutive London Marathon wins earlier this year.
He also has experience of competing at the Bird's Nest stadium after winning a race over 5,000m there in May.
"It's been a long two years I've been waiting for this," he said. "This is my biggest opportunity to win a Paralympic title because I did so well at the World Championships. It is the biggest year of my career.
"I know it seems crazy to a lot of people to do five events but to me it seems normal," I'm not sure if I can win five golds, but I'm going to try.
"The Paralympics are all about winning and that is what I am going there for, rather than to try and break world records, but I'm not bothered about going in as favourite because I'm happy I can dictate races however I feel.
"Others are worried about what I am doing. I've got the comfort zone where I can go fast or go slow and dictate and people are watching what I am doing.
"It is a great feeling when you can do that, especially in the 1500 and 5000m where it is more tactical, and I know have a good sprint at the end.
"I know I'll be good over the 400 and 1500m. The 5000m is always really testing and the 800m has been my bogey event - I don't know why, I just can't seem to get it right."
But like Roberts, Weir knows the importance of success in Beijing.
"To win a gold medal and hear the national anthem being played would be a dream come through. I had a couple of dreams when I was younger - one was to win the London Marathon, and I've done that, and the other was to win Paralympic gold.
"But I'm trying not to think ahead. I want to take each day as it comes. I'd rather wait until I've got the medals then think about it."
How do you think the Dave's will fare? Will Roberts break Thompson's record? And will Weir finally strike gold?
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