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Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 16:51 UK

British Paralympians return home

The British Paralympians were greeted by Gordon Brown

Great Britain's most successful Paralympics team in two decades have returned home on a gold-nosed plane.

Britain won 102 medals, including 42 golds, in China to finish second in the medals table behind the host nation.

GB chief Phil Lane hailed a "wonderful performance" but told reporters at Heathrow he was looking to the future.

"This is one of the top Paralympic performances we have had and will be a tough act to follow, but we need to get the recruitment right," he added.

"We really do need a new generation to push these guys and recruitment is the real issue. It's a difficult area for us.

"We find young talent is now dispersed in schools across the country and it's not so easy to identify them in the way we used to do.

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"We do need a real effort and a big drive to say, 'Come on, this is a great chance for you, look what these guys have delivered in Beijing, you could be part of that team in 2012'."

Eleanor Simmonds, who at 13 years of age became Britain's youngest ever individual Paralympic gold medallist, paid tribute to an "amazing" week.

"I've enjoyed every minute of it. After the races I was on such a high," she said. "I'll be 17 in 2012 and it'll be even better."

China topped the medal table in Beijing, winning an astonishing 87 golds out of a total of 207, having invested heavily in Paralympic sport and bolstering their squad.

Lane wants to see a similar drive ahead of his team's home Paralympics.

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Earlier, he urged disabled British people to log on to www.parasport.org.uk to see if they have the necessary attributes to compete in a Paralympic sport.

He said: "Parasport is all about putting disabled people in touch with sport for enjoyment and competition and, who knows, some of them may end up on the podium in London."

Lane also emphasised his belief that, with the Paralympics forming the only real barometer of sporting success for disabled athletes, funding must be distributed evenly among competitors.

"The Olympic model is very simplistic - success equals more pounds," he said.

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Video - Spectacular end to Paralympics

"But if you apply that principle to Paralympic sport we'll end up with a skewed system for a few athletes.

"The only thing that matters in disability sport is a Paralympic championship.

"World championships don't stack up because a lot of nations don't compete. The challenge is to invest in the right way for 2012."

Of the 206 British Paralympic athletes in Beijing, 80 won a medal and 30 won gold.

Just over half of the team were appearing at their first Paralympic Games.

see also
Paralympics 'truly coming home'
18 Sep 08 |  UK News
Paralympic baton passed to London
17 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Weir storms to second Games gold
16 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Pool star Roberts to carry flag
16 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Coe hopes to follow Beijing lead
16 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Archery gold for Brown and Stubbs
13 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Kenny and Stone win cycling golds
13 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
GB storm to gold double in pool
12 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Emotional Pearson wins more gold
11 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
GB collect three equestrian golds
09 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
GB cyclists take five more golds
09 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Kindred clinches second pool gold
09 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
British cyclists win three golds
07 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Simmonds makes history with gold
08 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Golden haul for GB on opening day
07 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
A-Z of Paralympic classification
28 Aug 08 |  Disability Sport
Disability Sport on the BBC
25 Aug 08 |  Disability Sport
GB Paralympic team for Beijing
24 Jul 08 |  Disability Sport


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