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Page last updated at 10:19 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008 11:19 UK

Team GB 'to scrap for top three'

By Elizabeth Hudson
BBC Sport in Beijing

Dave Weir (right) and David Holding
Dave Weir (right) won silver and bronze as GB claimed 94 medals in Athens

British Paralympic Association chief Phil Lane believes the Great Britain team should be "scrapping for the top three" in the Beijing medal table.

The British team have finished second at the last two Games, and could match that success at this year's Paralympics, which begin on Sunday.

"If we do as well as we think we can, we will be a contender," said Lane.

"We are in a pressurised situation which has raised expectations but we have come here to perform."

The majority of the 206-strong team have settled into the Paralympic Village in Beijing, with the equestrian and sailing teams in Hong Kong and Qingdao respectively.

Great Britain came away with 94 medals in Athens, including 35 golds, but a strong challenge from the home nation will make it tougher in Beijing.

"We haven't got a hope of catching up with China," admitted Lane.

"We just don't have the numbers, but there will be a real dogfight among the rest of us for the next places in the standings."

I've never seen athletes as well prepared as these, both physically and mentally

British Paralympic Association chief executive Phil Lane
Lane told reporters the British team had found it difficult to predict their likely rivals for medal table glory, other than China, with some nations ready to spring surprises.

"We know that the USA will be keen to make up for a bad Games in Athens, and Australia will be as belligerent as usual," he said.

"But trying to predict how successful other nations will be is tough. For example, the Ukraine have been here for a month and will challenge in some key areas while Brazil have been coming through.

"It's also difficult to know whether an athlete we haven't heard of before will come out of the woodwork.

"We are aiming for the top five and if we are scrapping for the top three, we will be doing well."

Lane added that National Lottery funding had played a huge part in cementing Great Britain's place as one of the leading Paralympic nations.

"I've never seen athletes as well prepared as these, both physically and mentally," he said.

"The funding we get has made us the envy of the world and while I've been in the village I have had other nations stopping to ask me about it.

"This is one of the biggest-ever Paralympic teams we have had. All of the athletes come to the Games with a great chance and the preparation work has gone well.

"In the village you can see the more seasoned campaigners sharing their experiences and geeing up the less experienced athletes and that can only benefit the team."

see also
A-Z of Paralympic classification
28 Aug 08 |  Paralympics
Paralympics on the BBC
25 Aug 08 |  Paralympics

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