Deadline Approaches for Prospective Paralympians

Prospective Paralympic rowers are being reminded that they have until Monday 11th January to sign up to see if they have what it takes to represent Great Britain.
 
With less than three years to go to the 2012 Paralympic Games, rowing will host one of the UK Talent Team’s  Talent 2012: Paralympic Potential assessment days this month. This is the final opportunity to try out for ParalympicsGB before 2012 and would-be Parlaympians can sign up to take part at www.uksport.gov.uk/talent
 
With 33% of British gold medallists at the Beijing Paralympics having been part of an elite Lottery funded programme for just two years before the Games, there is every opportunity for athletes to be identified now and progress all the way to the top of the podium at London 2012.
 
The rowing-specific assessment day, taking place at the national training centre near Reading, is the first test for budding rowers involved with the high profile campaign, Talent 2012: Paralympic Potential.

The UK Sport campaign was launched, in Association with ParalympicsGB and the English Institute of Sport, on December 3, 2009, to coincide with 1000 days to go until the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in London. To be considered, athletes must first apply online at www.uksport.gov.uk/talent <http://www.uksport.gov.uk/talent> .
 
The talent identification day offers prospective Paralympians the opportunity to put themselves in front of the country’s top sports scientists and coaches who will decide if they have what it takes to be fast tracked into elite sport.
 
Previous assessment days have identified athletes who have been placed directly into sports including rowing, shooting and wheelchair basketball.
 
World Champion rower Dave Smith is a great example of how athletes can progress through the ranks quickly. A former member of the GB bobsleigh team, Dave has a fused ankle which limited his development in that sport.
 
He was identified as a potential rower through a ParalympicsGB talent initiative. An impressive ergo test amazed GB Rowing coaches, who encouraged him to start the sport. Dave joined the team in early 2009 and became a world champion later that year. Dave’s case is particularly interesting because his fused ankle is a ‘minimal disability’, and, in fact, most people wouldn’t realise he has a disability at all.
 
With time ticking until the Opening Ceremony in London,  athletes with an impairment have never had a better chance to put themselves forward for a once in a lifetime opportunity to enter into the Olympic Stadium in Stratford as part of the ParalympicsGB team. 
 
Dave, 31, said: “Just a year ago I was still competing in bobsleigh. The switch to Paralympic rowing was a challenge for me, but I’m improving all the time. I was delighted to become a world champion in my first season and am completely focused on achieving success in 2012.
 
“I think my story demonstrates that with the right coaching and determination anything is possible. I hope other athletes in a similar position to me will grab their 2012 opportunity.” 

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