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After the excitement of the Beijing Paralympics, London 2012 promises to surpass all expectations.

Although established athletes like Eleanor Simmonds, David Weir and Lee Pearson will be at the forefront of ParalympicsGB's plans, the need to identify and bring through new talent is becoming more and more important as the Games approaches.

Increased funding is allowing initiatives like ParalympicsGB's Parasport programme, which aims to increase participation in disabled sport, to take on a new significance.

With the memories of Beijing still fresh, hopefuls filled out an online form over the last few weeks on the ParalympicsGB website and were invited along to east London's Mile End Leisure Centre earlier this week to try out 19 Paralympic sports.

Continue reading "Hunt is on for Paralympic talent"

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Many people, usually the athletes, describe the Paralympics as a roller-coaster of emotions.

In the privileged position of reporting on a Games, you see those emotions played out on a daily basis and you can't help but be affected by what you see unfold in front of you.

Whether it is seeing superb human achievements, triumph over adversity or just plain grit and determination, each Games has so many memorable moments.

We asked some of the BBC team covering the Games about their moments to remember from the Beijing Paralympics and we would love to know what yours were.

Continue reading "Magic moments"

The closing ceremony of the Beijing Paralympics proved to be a glorious celebration and a fitting end to what has been a magnificent Games.

The Chinese started with spectacular fireworks and ended with just as dazzling a pyrotechnic display to give London plenty of food for thought as they plan for their showpiece events in four years' time.

Continue reading "Spectacular ending to spectacular Games"

Great Britain's end of Games report from the Beijing Paralympics makes for satisfactory reading.

The team was the best-prepared to have gone to a Games and had benefited hugely from National Lottery cash.

Pre-Games, ParalympicsGB chief Phil Lane had said publicly that the team would be scrapping for top-three in the medals table and were hoping for 35-40 golds - although UK Sport had set a slightly more ambitious target of 112 medals.

In the end they fell just short of that target with 102 medals, eight more than in Athens four years ago, with 42 golds, compared to 35 last time. They held off the challenge of the US, a fast-improving Ukraine, and Australia, to finish second in the table.

Continue reading "Britain's view of the Games"


It was a five-star show from swimmer Natalie du Toit at the Beijing Paralympics. The 24-year-old South African, who lost her left leg in a motorcycle accident back in 2001, was entered in five events at the Water Cube - it would have been six but for an administration error that meant she missed the 100m backstroke - and won them all.

With the S9 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle and 400m freestyle and 50m freestyle on the menu, along with the SM9 200m individual medley, it was a hectic schedule for du Toit but one she took, like everything else, with typical stoicism and humility.

She won each of her heats, then triumphed in all of her five finals, setting three world records en route on what she called an "emotional rollercoaster".

Continue reading "Du Toit shines again on big stage"

A chance encounter with archery has given Britain's John Stubbs a new zest for life - and a Paralympic gold medal.

He and 20-year-old team-mate and fellow Paralympic debutant Danielle Brown lit up the Olympic Green Archery Field with some sparkling arrows to add two more golds to Great Britain's medal tally in Beijing in the individual compound events, with team-mate Mel Clarke managing a bronze.

Back in 1989, Stubbs, now 43, was involved in a road traffic accident and was twice given his last rites.

As a result of the accident he lost his leg and admits that afterwards he went through a torrid time.

Continue reading "Accidental archer shoots for gold"

At one end of the Paralympic spectrum you have sports like wheelchair rugby, rowing and wheelchair basketball where power and strength are key.

Then at the other end, you have sports like boccia.

Some people consider the sport unworthy of a place at the top table of Paralympic sport and dismiss it as just a friendly game played by people with cerebral palsy.

Yes, boccia may lack the physicality of some of the other 19 sports on offer in Beijing, but make no mistake, the skills and passion I saw on Friday as Britain won a glorious gold in the BC1/2 team play-off against Portugal assured me the sport fully deserves its place.

GB's boccia's team celebrate gold

Continue reading "Why boccia deserves its Paralympic place"

Water Cube, Beijing

From rock bottom to top of the world, it has been an amazing journey for Britain's Paralympic swimming gold medallist Heather Frederiksen.

Frederiksen's life changed completely four years ago when she was 18 and an accident left her with reduced mobility down the right hand side of her body.

Before the accident, she was a talented open water swimmer, competing in the 2003 World Open Water Championships and targeting a place at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

From being an active, sporty teenager with her life in front of her, she was left using a wheelchair with her Olympic dreams in tatters.

Continue reading "Frederiksen's tough road to success"

On a grey day in Beijing, the Great Britain Paralympic cycling team made it a "Tremendous Tuesday" with their six gold medals taking their total to nine, surpassing by one the Olympic team's standard.

Each of their five golds and one silver was loudly cheered on by the large group of British fans who made the long trip to the Laoshan Velodrome on a day when the weather was more Manchester than Mandarin.

As Darren Kenny, Rik Waddon, Mark Bristow, Jody Cundy, Simon Richardson and Aileen McGlynn and Ellen Hunter prepared for their turns on the track, their supporters were putting in their own final warm-ups in the stands of the humid arena, biting nails and frantically calculating split times and scenarios.

Once again, the impressive venue was full and the Chinese home crowd did their own bit to make their presence felt on an emotional and memorable day for British cycling.

Continue reading "Velodrama for Britain's cyclists"

Day one of swimming action in the Water Cube did not quite match the success of the British cyclists in the velodrome but Sascha Kindred gave it his all and was once again rewarded for his sterling efforts.

Kindred made it three consecutive wins in the SM6 200m individual medley, completing one half of a potential triple-double as he chases a third SB7 200m breaststroke crown later in the meeting - a title he also won in Sydney and Athens.

It was a first night session packed with world records - 13 in all - and some Chinese performances that had the sell-out crowd on their feet and making a racket.

Continue reading "Kindred lights up Water Cube"

The organisers of the Beijing Paralympics had long promised a Games of equal splendour to the Olympics and Saturday's spectacular opening ceremony has set a high benchmark for the rest of the competition.

Drawing on the themes of sky,earth and humans, the production featured dance, music, fireworks that shook the Bird's Nest Stadium, pink trees and the most amazing climax and torch lighting imaginable.

Hou Bin has won high jump gold medals at the last three Paralympics but he needed all of his strength for his role at the climax of the torch relay, propelling himself and his wheelchair up 70 feet into the air to light the torch and signal the start of the Games.

Continue reading "A glorious opening in Beijing"

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.

Continue reading "GB Daves on gold trail"

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