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Bradford fields a host of talented athletes keen to bring home Paralympic medals
Bradford is preparing to cheer on its home-grown talent as excitement builds for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Among the district’s medal hopefuls is Phil Bottomley, a former marksman with the Royal Artillery, who is making his Paralympic debut at the London games.
The 53-year-old archer, of Holme Wood , will compete in the Men’s Individual Recurve (Open) event. He took up the sport as part of his rehabilitation programme after he lost a leg in a workplace accident in September 2000 after he had left the Army.
His mum Marian and sister Maria will travel down to show their support.
Mrs Bottomley said she was “very proud” of her son. She said: “If he can keep his calm he should be all right. I think I would be nervous, you don’t know how many people will be at Woolwich to watch but the stadium holds 80,000.
“He wants to get up on the podium.”
Steeton -born archer Danielle Brown won Paralympic gold in Beijing, and gold at the Commonwealth Games in India in 2010.
She won double gold at the World Championships in 2007 when she was just 17 and will be aiming high when she competes in the Women’s Individual Compound (Open) at the London games.
Bradford-born Peter Finbow, 37, will be in the Team GB wheelchair basketball men’s squad.
In his career so far he has won two Paralympic medals and was part of the team crowned European Champions in 2011.
And cyclist David Stone, of Rawdon , will be competing in the T1-2 Road Race and the T1-2 Time Trial. He made his international debut in 1996 at the World Championships in Nottingham. He attended previous Paralympic Games in Sydney, in 2000, and Beijing in 2008.
Gerry Sutcliffe, MP for Bradford South and former Sports Minister, said: “I think the Paralympics will be equally as good to watch as the Olympics. I went to the Paralympics in Beijing and I will be going to the opening ceremony on Wednesday. It will be a fantastic event and I hope all our local athletes will do very well, and Team GB. It is geared up to be one of the best Paralympics ever.”
Meanwhile, Bradford played host to Vietnamese Paralympic athletes as they prepared to head down to London for the games.
Seventeen athletes stayed at Bradford University’s £84 million Sustainable Student Village, including four wheelchair swimmers, four wheelchair powerlifters and javelin and discuss throwers. The team also received physiotherapy at the university, which was a first for some of the athletes and a golden opportunity for the students. A spokesman for the university said: “These students are getting the opportunity to perform physiotherapy on athletes that they wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to do until five years after qualifying. Their graduate employment prospects are a lot higher.”
Bradford College’s international project’s manager Ronnie Todd said having the athletes in Bradford had been “fantastic” for students and had provided inspiration to members of Bradford Disability Sport and Leisure.
He said the training camps had brought a minimum £200,000 worth of business into the city.
He added: “The Paralympians have responded really well to training in West Yorkshire. They have had permanent smiles on their faces.
“The fantastic sports facilities in Bradford and Calderdale have given the Paralympians everything they have needed to prepare themselves for the largest Paralympic Games ever.”
The athletes have also been using the Spring Hall athletics track in Halifax, run by Calderdale Council.
They include Cao Ngoc Hung, discus and javelin thrower, who is set to be a flag bearer at the opening ceremony.
He said: “I would recommend Spring Hall athletics track to athletes and people wanting to do sport in Calderdale and beyond. It’s truly an Olympic and Paralympic standard venue.
“I urge people not to let their disabilities stop them from getting involved in sport and chasing their dreams.”
As with the Olympic Games, the Paralympics, and the opening and closing ceremonies, will be shown on the big BBC screen in Centenary Square.