Paralympics 2012: Shooter Di Coates set for eighth Games

Di Coates

2012 Paralympics

Date:
Wednesday, 29 August to Sunday 9 September
Coverage:
Extensive daily coverage across 5 live, 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website

Shooter Di Coates may be Britain's most experienced Paralympian but even she is preparing for something new in London.

The 58-year-old, who will be competing in her eighth Games, expects the atmosphere to be unlike anything she has ever experienced before.

"We have been preparing for the noise by doing distraction training," she told BBC Sport. "I'm hoping it will be an advantage to me at Games time."

Coates is the only GB competitor to have taken part in a home Games before.

She competed in the shooting events at Stoke Mandeville in 1984, winning two silver medals and a bronze on her Paralympic debut.

Stoke Mandeville had stepped in to share the Games with New York after the planned hosts, the University of Illinois, pulled out.

"The Stoke Mandeville Games were a marvellous event, but when I went to Seoul in 1988 I realised how small and insignificant it had been," said Coates, who is a wheelchair user.

"But I am really looking forward to these Games, especially after watching the Olympics. We are ready to carry on the good work they started."

Coates has added three golds, a silver and a bronze to her tally and hopes for more at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, which hosts the shooting events from 30 August to 6 September.

"We went to the test event at the venue in the spring to watch the able-bodied team compete and it was great to experience it and see the set-up and it gave me a good feeling," she said.

"It is great for me to have the chance to compete in front of big crowds and have home support. When you compete in Paralympic Games and other big events abroad, family and friends don't always have the chance to see you competing.

"I'm hopefully peaking at the right time. There's only one thing on my mind and that is a gold medal."

The softly spoken Coates remains proud of her success, but she still has a way to go to catch up with long-time Australian rival Libby Kosmala, who will be competing in her 12th Games.

"I enjoy what I am doing and that is the secret to me keeping on competing," added Coates. "My sport is my life."

Head coach Pasan Kularatne says the British squad, which includes Beijing gold medallist Matt Skelhon, can enjoy success on home soil.

"When you compare where we were when I started almost six years ago, we are in a great position," he said. "We only had four shooters in Beijing and in London we will have 12.

"Matt's gold has definitely helped raised the profile of the sport and helped the funding, while Di's experience shows that age doesn't matter."

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