ParalympicsGB has today officially named the first Female British athletes selected to compete in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games by naming Female table tennis players Sue Gilroy, Cathy Mitton and Clare Robertson.
Among those selected is 32-year-old Clare Robertson from Deeside, making her Games debuts.
As well as these newcomers a number of the squad are likely to be among the most experienced British team members in Beijing this summer, 49-year-old Robinson (Bridgend, Glamorgan), selected for their sixth successive Paralympic Games.
Qualification for the table tennis competitions at the Beijing Paralympics was based on positions in the world ranking list after it closed on December 31, 2007. British performances at events throughout 2006 and 2007 saw the GB players rise through the world rankings to qualify and subsequently be selected for the Games.
At the 2006 IPC Table Tennis World Championships, 51-year-old Mitton (York, North Yorkshire), Robinson and 35-year-old Gilroy (Barnsley, South Yorskhire) all won individual bronze medals in their respective classes, following a gold and bronze respectively for Gilroy and Mitton at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
The squad hit gold again at the Polish Open with Robinson winning class 3 singles .
Team Manager Steve Ward said: “To be the first team selected by ParalympicsGB is a great honour for table tennis and the athletes who have achieved the tough qualification standards.
“We will have a larger squad than in Athens in 2004 with a number having never competed at the Paralympics before but who have great chances to compete for medals and gain valuable experience for future Games in London in 2012 and beyond. We have some of youngest and most improved athletes in the world - David Wetherill is an example of what a young athlete can achieve with talent and dedication. He is a great chance of a British medal in Beijing and London..
“We are planning to defend the two medals won in Athens – men’s class 3 team silver and women’s class 2 singles bronze – as well as take others. Beijing will however be much tougher than Athens and all players will need to perform at the highest level to challenge the Chinese in their backyard. The sport over there is like football here and we are being told the tickets are selling out already.
“The venue is outstanding and the biggest stage in world for table tennis, we need to pull out our biggest performances to maximise medal chances.”
Sue Gilroy said: “The Beijing Games is going to be such a fabulous experience because table tennis is one of their major sports whereas it’s always been a minority sport at the Games before.”
The Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games opens on September 6 and closes on September 17. The table tennis events at the Games take place from September 7 to 16 at the Peking University Gymnasium.
At the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games Britain finished second in the medal table with a total of 35 golds, 30 silver and 29 bronze medals. With competitive standards continually rising and the dominant Chinese team taking the home advantage ParalympicsGB recognises that the 2008 Paralympics will be one of its biggest challenges yet.
For further information about the British Paralympic Association, please contact Sian Davies in the Press Office on 0207 211 5240 or 07721 892686 or by email at [email protected]. For news updates visit the BPA website at www.paralympics.org.uk
Name Date of Birth Home Town Place of Birth
Arnie Chan 27/05/1957 Mansfield, Notts Saigon
Sue Gilroy 19/10/1972 Barnsley, Yorkshire Barnsley
Paul Karabardak 03/10/1985 Swansea, Mid-Glamorgan Swansea
Cathy Mitton 30/11/1956 York, Yorkshire Leeds
Dzaier Neil 01/07/1957 Lambeth, London
James Rawson 07/07/1965 Nottingham Newark
Clare Robertson 25/08/1975 Saltney, Flintshire Cardiff,
Scott Robertson 23/06/1976 Saltney, Flintshire Mancot, Flintshire
Neil Robinson 23/07/1958 Bridgend, Glamorgan Bridgend, Glamorgan
David Wetherill 22/12/1989 Torpoint, Cornwall Plymouth