Paralympic multi gold medallists Sarah Storey, Darren Kenny, Aileen McGlynn and Jody Cundy and Beijing gold medallists David Stone and Rachel Morris are amongst an 18-strong Para-Cycling team announced today by the British Paralympic Association (BPA) as competing at London 2012.
The team is also bolstered with new talent, developed by British Cycling since Beijing, including 2012 World Championships gold medallist Mark Colbourne and 2011 World Road and 2012 World Track Championships bronze medallist Shaun McKeown, who was identified at a BPA-run Paralympic Potential Day in Sheffield in 2009.
Also identified at a Paralympic Potential Day and the third athlete selected to ParalympicsGB after coming through the Ministry of Defence’s Battle Back programme is Jon-Allan Butterworth, a double World Champion (2011 and 2012) in the kilo and world record holder.
Sarah Storey will seek to defend her titles in the Pursuit and Time Trial to add to her collection of 18 Paralympic medals, 16 of which were in the pool.
Commenting today Storey, for whom London will be her sixth Paralympic Games, said: "Being selected for my sixth Games is very exciting, it has been a long time coming and one of the latest announcements I think I have been involved with. Training and racing has been all focused on the end of August and the Paralympic Games and being at home makes it extra exciting. I am looking forward to getting out there and racing now!"
Meanwhile Darren Kenny, the athlete from the British team to win the most medals in Beijing with four golds to his name, is selected to compete at his third Games. He said: "It's lovely to finally get the nod and know that I've made the team for London 2012. Everyone on the team, riders and staff, have worked so hard to create a team to make the nation proud. To be chosen to be part of that team is a huge honour."
Also selected for a second consecutive Games is handcyclist Rachel Morris, who won gold in the Time Trial.
She commented today: “I am so happy that all the hard work, dedication & focus has paid off, and I have been selected for London 2012 Paralympic Games! To be competing in a home Paralympics is more than the majority of elite athletes will ever experience and having the opportunity to perform in front of your country and people that have meant a lot to me on my journey in life and also sport means more than I can put into words.
“I want to take the opportunity to say a big thank you to the crowds that will be supporting us and helping us perform to our maximum potential and to all those who have purchased lottery tickets and helped me to be able to train as a full time athlete.”
Jon-Allan Butterworth served in Afghanistan in 2005 and Iraq in 2007 as a SAC(T) Weapons technician. He lost his arm in Iraq in August 2007 in a rocket attack on Basra Air Station. He was identified at a Paralympic Potential Day in October 2007 and has since developed into one of the fastest para-cyclists in the world.
“I'm proud to representing my country again”, said Butterworth. “I've been on an amazing journey, I have lots of people to thank, and I know they'll be supporting me in London at my first games.”
Jon-Allan will face a formidable rival in British teammate Jody Cundy, another swimmer turned cyclist, who holds the Paralympic title in the kilo.
Speaking today, Cundy said: "I feel honoured to be selected for my fifth Paralympics which ultimately is going to be the most important and special as it is on home soil. I can’t wait to defend my Paralympic titles and race in front of a partisan crowd as part of the strongest team that ParalympicsGB has ever sent to a Paralympic Games. Bring on London!"
Today’s selection takes the number of selected athletes to 220 plus two sighted goalkeepers and four pilot riders – marginally more than the 213-strong ParalympicsGB team that competed in Beijing, with four sports (Rowing, Goalball – men, Equestrian and Athletics) still to be announced.
The Para-Cycling team brought home 20 medals from Beijing to finish top of their sport’s medal table, and the sport has brought home multiple international medals from road and track since 2008, so Paralympic selectors are confident that the team will perform once again when they take to the boards at the Olympic Park is just over 60 days’ time.
Chef de Mission of the ParalympicsGB team for London 2012, which is anticipated to be around 300 athletes in total, is Craig Hunter. He congratulated the cyclists today, saying
“Cycling was one of our highest performing sports in Beijing and the squad has continued to win medals on both the track and the road throughout the last three years. This is an exceptional group of athletes that we can today confirm will be joining ParalympicsGB, and I am very proud that they will be representing Britain at the Paralympics this year”.
Gareth Sheppard, Performance Manager for the British Para-Cycling team, congratulated his cyclists, saying: “We're taking our largest ever team to the London Games and are looking forward to defending the many titles won in Beijing. It'll be tough trying to equal 17 gold medals and our athletes realise the expectation on their shoulders. Having the whole of the country behind them will really help us and we are confident of delivering some world class performances.”
Team GB - Paracycling - 2012 Paralympic Games, London
Jon Allan Butterworth
Born: Sutton Coldfield. Lives: Sale, Cheshire.
Born: Wisbech, Cambs. Lives: Manchester.
Born: Lewisham, London. Lives: Lee, London.
Born: Birmingham. Lives: Rawdon, Yorkshire.
Born: Cheshire. Lives: Chorley, Lancashire.
Born: Halifax. Lives: Inverness.
Born: Guildford. Lives: Farnham, Surrey.
Born: Manchester. Lives: Stockport.