Team GB announce Paralympic athletics squad


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The Independent Online

UK Athletics Paralympic head coach Peter Eriksson believes the squad is in a far better place than it was four years ago.

Great Britain ended the Beijing Games with just two gold medals - both from David Weir - as they finished 18th in the athletics medal table.

Things have improved vastly since then and the British Paralympic Association today announced its 49-strong athletics squad for London 2012 - one which Eriksson has backed to impress.

"I think we have a very good chance of moving up the standings from 2008," the Swede said, speaking 50 days ahead of the Paralympics' opening ceremony.

"That has always been our goal. To end up in the top eight of the national standings, to get between five and eight gold medals, and 25 to 28 medals in total.

"However, I think we will do even better than that but that remains to be seen.

"I think we are in a great situation, where we have at least 10 world record holders over the past one and a half years going into the Games.

"I don't think that has ever happened before and we have a young team too, with over 50% newcomers to the Games."

Eriksson has quickly helped change the British team's fortunes since his appointment as UK Athletics' Paralympic head coach in 2008.

That transformation was epitomised at last year's World Championships, where Britain finished third in the medal table with 38.

Asked what the secret of success was, Eriksson said: "I think it is the integration we have done with the Olympics side when it comes to the coaching, the support, the training centres.

"That ups the expectations of the athletes and I think that is the key to them moving forward."

No fewer than 28 athletes will make their Paralympic debut in London, while there are eight medallists from Beijing in the athletics squad.

The team features a number of experienced track and field campaigners, including three-time F32 club throw gold medallist Stephen Miller and multiple F34 shot putt and discus medallist Dan West.

Tracey Hinton, a double gold medallist in the T11 100m and 200m at the recent IPC Athletics European Championships, celebrates her sixth Paralympics, while Weir is selected for his fourth Games.

Hannah Cockroft, the T34 double World Champion in the 100/200m and multiple world record holder, is among the athletes making their Paralympic debuts.

T36 1500m world record holder and world 400m champion Paul Blake is another making their Games debut as is Jonnie Peacock, who is included after breaking Oscar Pistorius' T44 world record at the end of June.

Josie Pearson and Richard Whitehead make their Games debuts in athletics, having represented Britain in wheelchair rugby and ice sledge hockey respectively.