06 June 2009

Paralympic hopefuls given workout

The next generation of Great Britain's Paralympic team may have been discovered in Manchester this week after an encouraging talent identification day.

Despite great success in China - Britain won 42 gold and 102 medals in all, finishing behind only the hosts in the medal table - the hosts of the XIV Paralympic Games are not prepared to rest on their laurels, searching for future success through talent identification days.

Forty people attended the sixth multi-sport, multi-disability ParalympicsGB talent identification day at Manchester Regional Arena. It was the third such event since Beijing.

ParalympicsGB - formerly known as the British Paralympics Association - organise the try-out days to identify those with exceptional talent.

The London Paralympics, which begin in 1180 days, may come too soon for the hopefuls who were able to choose from 12 sports this week, but the 2016 Games are a real possibility.

ParalympicsGB talent officer Tabo Huntley told PA Sport: "We need to give everyone the opportunity to try out different sports.

"But this is not about participation. This is about giving those who have talent to be handpicked and placed on to programmes and high-performance environments."

Once individuals are recognised as having exceptional talent, they are transferred into their sport to hone their skills through specialised coaching.

Luke Kelly, who uses an electric wheelchair due to his cerebral palsy, was one participant hopeful of reaching the Paralympics.

The 15-year-old from Manchester told PA Sport: "I saw Beijing and I thought I really want to be a Paralympian when I grow up. This talent day was my chance and I came along."

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