We’ve just about had time to draw breath from another quite spectacular Olympics, but it’s time to go again – the Paralympics start on Tuesday (Aug 24) and we at Sportside cannot wait.
Having had the brilliant BBC on non-stop for the Games during July and the beginning of August, Sportsiders will now switch over to the excellent Channel 4 for the 12 days of Paralympic competition, offering comprehensive daily coverage across all its platforms including More 4. There will also be a Paralympics microsite featuring 16 livestreams and providing over 1,000 hours of sport.
And with wonderful timing, the Government announced it will provide £232 million to support Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes for Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The £232 million will be used to back aspiring Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes as well as their coaches and support staff, in addition to funding from the National Lottery. This £77.4 million a year for three years to elite sport agency UK Sport is an increase from the £54 million a year government funding UK Sport received for Tokyo 2020 – a rise of 44 per cent.
The news should delight many of Team GB’s Tokyo heroes and further inspire the ParalympicGB team as they look to emulate their second-place performance in the Rio medal table in 2016.
All athletes will be in line to benefit from UK Sport’s World Class Programme and Progression Funding, which will provide vital support towards reaching the pinnacle of their sports as preparations begin for Paris 2024 and beyond.
Both the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston were at the Team GB Homecoming event at Wembley Arena last week, where the medal-winning success of the likes of Adam Peaty, Jason and Laura Kenny, Tom Daley and Sky Brown were celebrated in front of a live audience and broadcast on the BBC.
Team GB’s medal haul was across more disciplines than any other nation achieved at Tokyo which is another cause for celebration and our successes in the BMX and Skateboarding arenas was particularly satisfying with both being new sports at the Games.
“Team GB showed us the very best of this country in Tokyo – demonstrating sportsmanship, hard work and record-breaking performances. From the pool to the track to the velodrome, our Olympians gave us so many reasons to be proud, and to celebrate their extraordinary success. This increased funding will support Team GB to deliver their best possible performances in three years time in Paris,” said the Prime Minister while Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston added: “I’m sure [our athletes] have inspired many to take up sport for the first time, while making the country proud and promoting the best of Britain abroad. So it is absolutely right that we can now deliver this certainty for them for preparations for Paris 2024. I now look forward to the Paralympics where the nation will be cheering on our brilliant Paralympic athletes as they make us proud in Tokyo.”
Mike Sharrock, CEO of the British Paralympic Association said: “This is great news for our Paralympic athletes about to compete in Tokyo, demonstrating the government’s backing for their hard-work and dedication in preparing for Tokyo and ensuring that we continue to be a major powerhouse in Paralympic sport through to Paris 2024 and beyond.
“With the challenges of disrupted training schedules, lockdowns and additional safety measures, lottery and government funding, coupled with athletes’ hard work and extreme dedication, enabled 376 Team GB athletes to be selected for Tokyo – making it the biggest Team GB at an overseas games.”
And from those 376 we have selected eight to keep an eye on over the next 12 days as Channel 4 delivers more high-class sporting entertainment into your living room:
Two-time Paralympic swimmer Henshaw has taken the canoeing world by storm since switching sports after Rio. She is now seen as a real threat to wrestle Paralympic gold away from compatriot Emma Wiggs.
Peacock is going for an incredible hat-trick of T64 100m titles following success in London and Rio. The 28-year-old is representing the British team in that event for the first time since winning gold at the World Para Athletics Championships in 2017.
The phenomenal Storey is set for her eighth Games and can beat Mike Kenny to become Britain’s most-decorated Paralympian. Successful defences of her C5 individual pursuit, C5 time trial and C4-5 road race titles will move her on to a remarkable 17 gold medals, one ahead of former swimmer Kenny.
‘Hurricane Hannah’ beat her own world records in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Switzerland in May. The wheelchair racing star has five golds from two previous Games and competes in the T34 100m and 800m.
Truesdale has been one of the best para-taekwondo stars since winning the world title seven years ago. The sport makes its Paralympic debut in Tokyo and the 32-year-old will start as one of the clear favourites in the women’s +58kg category.
The 33-year-old table tennis player injured his knee rehearsing for Strictly Come Dancing in 2019 but Bayley believes he is now playing the best table tennis of his career. He won the class seven title five years ago.
Whitehead is now 44 but, having won T44 200 metres gold in London and Rio, he shows no signs of slowing down.
Sir Lee Pearson
Britain’s flag bearer in Rio is seeking to add to his remarkable haul of 11 gold medals gained across five previous Paralympics. The 47-year-old equestrian great will compete on a homebred horse – nine-year-old gelding Breezer – for the first time at a Games.