PARALYMPICS LONDON 2012: Headline stars Weir and Simmonds play down expectations
DAVID Weir and Ellie Simmonds - the headline stars of Great Britain's Paralympic team - are playing down their medal expectations as they seek to defend the titles they won in Beijing.
REALISTIC: David Weir won four medals in Beijing - including two golds - but is playing down his London 2012 ambitions
Wheelchair racer David Weir was one of the few British track and field success stories in 2008, winning two golds, a silver and a bronze.
While Simmonds, then aged just 13, was one of the faces of the Games after striking double swimming gold at the Water Cube.
Weir will challenge in four events again - the 800m, 1500m, 5000m and marathon - but insists the strength in depth in his T54 classification will make his life difficult.
“Physically I feel in great shape and my preparations have been great. But T54 wheelchair racing is the toughest class in the world at the moment,” he said.
“To get four medals will be tough. The standards have jumped another level in the last four years. I’ll just take each race as it comes and see what happens.
“I’m here to do a job and that’s to win a gold medal. I aim for one gold medal at every championships. If I get more golds or medals, that’s a bonus."
Weir claims he is not fazed by the thought of competing in front of a home crowd. In fact, he was inspired by watching Britain’s Olympians being cheered on at the Olympic Stadium.
“I seem to deal with the pressure pretty well," he added. "Every time I do the London Marathon people assume I’m going to turn up and win, and I’ve dealt with that situation, it’s just another race for me.
“Having the crowd cheering you on should get you the performance you’re looking for.
“It’s a bit of a pressure cooker competing at home, but I think a lot of athletes will thrive off it."
CAUTIOUS: Ellie Simmonds won two golds in Beijing and has since won ten world titles - she's also claiming just medalling won't be easy at London 2012
Simmonds - following the lead of fellow swimmer Rebecca Adlington - is also talking down her aspirations, insisting she would be 'chuffed to bits' just to win a medal.
But it's worth noting that in two World Championships since Beijing she's won ten medals - and all have them have been gold.
“Beijing seems like yesterday, but a lot has changed for my second Paralympic Games,” she said.
“I’m more experienced going into these Games. At 13 I was quite excited and young, at 17 I’m more mature. There’s the same excitement this time, as well as the same emotions and the same nerves.
“It will be hard work, but I’m going to go out there and do the best I can.
"I’ve had great training throughout the winter and the best lead up so far. I just can’t wait to race.
“I’m confident. You’ve got to believe in yourself and believe that you can go out there and do it. I’m going to give it my all. I’ll be chuffed to bits if I can walk away with any medal."
© Sportsbeat 2012