Sailors earn first places in 2012 GB Paralympic team

GB sailors John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas
The Sonar crew of Robertson, Stodel and Thomas finished out of the medals at the last two Paralympics

Five sailors have become the first athletes to be named on the 2012 Great Britain Paralympic team.

John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas will be competing in the three-person Sonar competition for a third consecutive Games.

Current world champions Niki Birrell and Alex Rickham will be racing in the two-person Skud-18 category.

The Paralympic sailing event will take place in Weymouth and Portland from 1-6 September 2012.

The Sonar crew, who have been competing together since 2003, finished sixth in the last two Paralympics but they have won two world titles (in 2005 and 2006) and finished second at the recent World Championships in Weymouth, controversially missing out on a gold medal.

As well as competing in Athens and Beijing, Thomas also represented Great Britain in the sledge hockey competition at the 2006 Winter Paralympics in Turin.

Birrell and Rickham will be making their second Paralympic appearance after making their debut in Beijing, where they finished fifth.

The pair, who only started competing together in 2008, have since won three world titles, including last month on the 2012 Paralympic course.

British Paralympic Association chief executive Tim Hollingsworth said: "This is a very exciting moment in the build-up to London. The selection of the first athletes who will represent this country in 2012 really brings it home that the Games are just around the corner.

"I'm delighted that the first athletes to achieve this honour are being selected. They have worked very hard over many years to achieve this and I hope the nation will join me in congratulating them now and supporting them in a year's time on the water at Weymouth."

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