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Page last updated at 21:03 GMT, Sunday, 18 October 2009 22:03 UK

Rickham & Birrell win world gold

GB sailors Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell
Rickham and Birrell were in superb form throughout the regatta

Britain's Paralympic sailors won a gold and a bronze at the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships in Athens.

Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell triumphed in the two-person Skud-18 category, winning five of their nine races to beat their US rivals.

Helena Lucas took bronze in the 2.4mR category with Megan Pascoe in fifth.

But the Sonar crew of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas had a difficult week and could only finish seventh in their category.

Rickham, from Epsom and Cheshire-based Birrell were beaten into second by the US crew of Scott Whitman and Julia Dorsett at last month's Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth and Portland but they got revenge in spectacular style.

Having previously crewed the boat, Rickham took over helming duties from Birrell at the start of this year and was delighted to have beaten the Americans

"We knew we would have a lot of work to do this year because of the role reversal, but all of the hard work has paid off and today is the culmination of all of that," she said.

"Niki and I put together a good series - we made a few mistakes, but mostly we were pretty solid throughout and we're just so happy to have finally got a good result when it counts. We're over the moon but knackered!"

Birrell paid tribute to Sydney silver medallist Ian Barker who has been working with the pair this year after they finished fifth at last year's Beijing Paralympics.

"We owe big thanks to the whole team but Ian been a massive help, both from a practical point of view, but has also helped us take our campaign to the next level," he said.

"I'm sure he'd be the first person to say we're nowhere near the finished article and there's lots we need to work on between now and 2012, but for now we're really happy and this win means an awful lot to us after the hard work we've put in this year."

Lucas was relieved to have won her first Worlds medal for three years after finishing third and sixth in her final two races on Sunday.

"It was a tough week and in our last two races the wind was all over the place and we had some pretty close racing.

"But I hung in there and did what I needed to do, and I'm really pleased that I managed to pull it off."

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see also
Medal joy for GB Paralympic crews
19 Sep 09 |  Disability Sport
A-Z of Paralympic classification
28 Aug 08 |  Disability Sport
Disability Sport on the BBC
02 Nov 09 |  Disability Sport

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