PARALYMPICS LONDON 2012: Hinton and Miller named British athletics captains
STEPHEN Miller and Tracey Hinton will captain Great Britain’s Paralympics athletics team, while Christine Ohuruogu flew to Portugal to give the 48-strong squad a final pep talk.
CONFIDENT: Field event athlete Stephen Miller is competing at this fifth Paralympic Games at London 2012 and is a five-time medallist
Miller and Hinton, who have competed at nine Paralympic Games between them, were introduced as captains to the 48-strong athletics team at the UK Athletics training camp in the Algarve.
“Ever since it was announced that London would host the 2012 Paralympic Games it has been my ambition – and become my obsession – to represent Great Britain in these home Games,” Hinton told the team members, including 28 first-time Paralympians.
“After five Games there were times when I thought the door was closing on this opportunity for me, but we’ve all had our ups and downs.
“We’ve all jumped with joy and buried our faces in our hands. We all have our own individual dreams. An athlete with no dreams is an athlete with no ambitions.
“It only takes one run, one jump, one throw… If we can leave the stadium and know that we’ve competed to the best of our ability then it’s a job well done.
“For some that’s a world record, for some it’s a medal and for some it’s a personal best. Don’t let the voices in your head haunt you or have regrets, because another four year will pass until you can put it right.
“The nation will get behind us whether we win or lose, but let’s give them something to shout about; let’s inspire a new generation of athletes like Mo [Farah] and Jess [Ennis] did during the Olympics.
“Get out there and create your own memories."
After finishing 18th in the Beijing 2008 medal table, the GB athletics team are aiming to finish eighth in London 2012 with a target of 23 medals, including five to eight golds.
The team have been performing well in recent championships, finishing third at the 2011 IPC World Championships in New Zealand and head coach Peter Eriksson opened the team meeting alongside special guest Christine Ohuruogu, Olympic 400m silver medallist at London 2012.
“The reason we were so good in New Zealand was because we communicated, we talked to one another, supported one another, and we were well prepared,” he said.
“There is no reason that we can’t succeed this time. Many of you were medallists in New Zealand at the worlds and my question to you is this: are you willing to give up that medal?
“When I started this job I really wanted to do something better and now we’re really doing things better. This is the best team, and best staff, I’ve ever worked with."
Miller, a three-time Paralympic gold medallist in the club throw from 1996 to 2004, is another of the team’s most experienced members with London his fifth Games.
“I’ve been doing this sport for 16 years which makes me feel really old, but when Peter told me I was team captain I was so honoured,” he said.
“For the first time in my career I’m truly proud going into the Games as part of this team. That’s testament to everyone on the team and how hard they’ve worked, and it shows the strength and depth of disability athletics in Britain.
“It’s scary, but it’s supposed to be. You have to be nervous, but use those emotions in a positive way. We’ve all made sacrifices to be here, but we only have one opportunity; now we have to take that opportunity.”
© Sportsbeat 2012