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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December, 2004, 12:00 GMT
Britain savours Paralympic glory
By Mike Burnett

Tanni Grey Thompson became GB's greatest Paralympian with 11 golds
By far the biggest event on the disability sport calendar, the 2004 Paralympics proved a resounding success for Team GB.

The squad returned home after 11 days of action-packed competition in Athens with 94 medals, including 35 golds.

It was not quite the 131-medal tally achieved at the last Games, but Britain still finished runners-up in the table.

More importantly, targets were met in the face of increasing competition from emerging nations.

In particular, China - sixth on medal table in Sydney, topped the standings in Athens, clearly making their mark ahead of Beijing in four years' time.

The swimming team were the key force behind Britain's impressive medal haul.

The squad came away with a haul of 52 medals - including 16 golds.

It was a marvellous achievement by a smaller team than that which won 15 titles in Sydney four years earlier.

Pride of place went to Scot Jim Anderson and David Roberts from Swansea, who both finished with four golds apiece.

GB's athletics team had a harder time, winning only 17 medals compared to 48 at Sydney.

I don't think I have ever cried so much after my races
Tanni Grey Thompson
Just three golds were won on the track - two for Tanni Grey Thompson (T53 100m and 400m) and Danny Crates (T46 800m).

But Grey Thompson's double ensured she became Britain's most successful Paralympian ever.

The wheelchair racing star left Athens with a total of 11 gold medals from five Paralympics.

Even missing out on medals in the 200m and 800m could not dampen a historic achievement for the 35-year-old.

"I don't think I have cried so much after my races," she said after securing her second gold on the last day of athletics competition.

Her success was made more poignant by hints that Greece may have been her last appearance on the Paralympic stage.

Another success story was the equestrian team who once again dominated proceedings in Athens just as they had in Australia.

GOLDEN MOMENTS
Debbie Criddle won her third equestrian gold medal of the Games
Lee Pearson and Debbie Criddle led the way, winning three golds each (two individual and one team).

Pearson's impressive treble meant he retained all his titles from Sydney, and helped GB to their third gold in a row in the team event.

The cyclists immediately made their presence felt in Athens when both Aileen McGlynn with pilot Ellen Hunter, and Darren Kenny landed golds in their 1km time trial races on the first day.

Kenny later landed a second gold in the individual pursuit and a silver in the combined time trial and road race.

McGlynn and Hunter were then second in the open sprint while Ian Sharpe and Paul Hunter grabbed bronzes in their individual pursuit and 1km time trial.

Peter Norfolk claimed GB's first Paralympic tennis medal in the inaugural quad tournament, while Emma Brown (powerlifting) and Isabel Newstead (shooting) both retained their titles.

Elsewhere, the men's wheelchair basketball team were tipped by many people as gold medal contenders prior to Athens but were still happy with bronze, going one better than in Sydney.

In judo, Simon Jackson failed to add to his tally after a controversial refereeing decision but Ian Rose, in his fourth Paralympics, managed silver in the 100kg+ category.

The Games was not without controversy too - the issue of drugs, as it had at the Olympics, also cast its shadow over the Paralympics.

There were seven positive tests out of 600 or so carried out, showing perhaps that even in disabled sport some athletes will do anything to win.

The Paralympics ended on a rather subdued note after seven children died in a tragic bus crash en route to watch the Games.

But overall, Athens was seen as a true success, not only for the British team but also the Greeks, who rose magnificently to the challenge of hosting the event in a country where there is no tradition of disabled sport.




WATCH AND LISTEN
UK Sports Minister Richard Caborn praises GB's heroes



SPORTS REVIEW 2004

 

Highlights of 2004


FAREWELL TO...



Paralympic highlights

SEE ALSO
Britain battle to bronze
28 Sep 04 |  Disability Sport
Judo blow for Jackson
19 Sep 04 |  Disability Sport



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