When our athletes take to the slopes and ice of the curling sheet at the 2014 Winter Paralympics, they will be continuing a proud tradition of competing in every event since the first one was held in Sweden back in 1976.
In the intervening years, our athletes have done well, coming away with 6 Silver and 15 Bronze medals in total. But the coveted Gold has eluded us – up until now.
Along with sports fans throughout the country, I will be rooting for ParalympicsGB in the hope that they break new ground and win the nation’s first Gold in Sochi.
We have a fantastic opportunity to do just that. We have 10 athletes competing in the downhill skiing events, 2 of whom snatched 2 Gold medals in as many days during the recent World Cup in France.
For a country that is not exactly blessed with an abundance of ski resorts, this was a fantastic achievement and something that I’m sure they will take great heart from as they prepare to repeat their successes in Sochi.
I also have high hopes for our wheelchair curling team, a sport Britain has historically been strong in, as they take to the ice this week.
The target for the ParalympicsGB team is to win 2 medals in Sochi. If we were to achieve that it would be fantastic.
I was enormously privileged to be invited to the first ever Heritage Flame lighting ceremony at Stoke Mandeville on Saturday, celebrating the UK’s unique place in the Games’ history, as the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.
Through these Winter Games we can build on the spectacular legacy of London 2012, and continue to raise the profile of Paralympic sport in the UK and inspire the next generation of disabled athletes.
I am pleased to be supporting our strongest ever and best prepared Winter Paralympic team in Sochi. I wish them every bit of luck in their endeavours and I’m sure they will do us proud.
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