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Team GB still searching for 2012 Paralympic stars


Former Paralympic champion Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson explains the aims of the 2012 Games.

With 1,000 days to go until the 2012 Paralympics, disabled athletes have been told they still have time to take up new sports and win gold in London.

A talent search called Paralympic Potential is being launched to mark the 1,000-day countdown to the 2012 Games.

"The ability to achieve a Paralympic Gold medal is a rare commodity," said UK Sport's Chelsea Warr.

"With hard work, dedication and the right coaching set up, we can make someone's dream a reality."

Research has shown that potential participants for a Paralympic Games can be ready to compete at an elite level much sooner than their Olympic counterparts.

In Beijing in 2008, 33% of British medallists had been part of their sports' elite programmes for less than two years and 15 of the 42 British gold medals were won by first time Paralympians.

Paralympics GB chief executive, Phil Lane, said: "Whilst we have come second in the medal table at the past four Games, there are many events that we simply haven't been able to field an athlete in.

David Smith
A new talent search hopes to find athletes like rower Smith

"With the competition getting tougher all the time it is vital that we have explored all avenues to recruit new athletes."

The new campaign hopes to find athletes like Dave Smith, who won a world rowing medal within 12 months of taking up the sport and who is now aiming for London 2012.

Smith's hopes of competing in bobsleigh at the able-bodied Winter Olympics were frustrated by a fused ankle, which is classed as a "minimal disability".

"The switch to Paralympic rowing was a challenge for me, and I'm improving all the time," said Smith, 31, from Dunfermline.

"I was delighted to become a world champion in my first season and am completely focused on achieving success in 2012."

Olympics Minster Tessa Jowell said the Games would be a huge celebration of sport but could also have an impact on a far wider scale.

"This amazing spectacle of sport will not only reinforce the fact that being disabled need not be a barrier to sporting achievement.

"It is also an opportunity for us all to challenge our perceptions of disabled people and to accelerate change that will transform their lives," she said.

Official logos representing the sports of the London 2012 Paralympics were unveiled on Thursday to mark the 1,000-day milestone.

London 2012 organisers are relying on the 20 pictograms images to not only help spectators find their way to venues but to also be a vital tool in teaching people about Paralympic sports.

They will also be posted to help noticeably transform London in to a Paralympic city after the Olympics end.

London 2012 chair Lord Coe said: "This is a golden opportunity to raise awareness of Paralympic sport, challenge stereotypes about disability and secure a legacy which will have every disabled child getting greater access to sport.

The launch in Greenwich, south-east London, featured Paralympians sporting Paralympic pictogram t-shirts and archers shooting their arrows across the Meridian Line.

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see also
2012 Live: London Paralympics
02 Dec 09 |  2012
Olympics 2012 venue guide
03 Dec 08 |  Olympics
Olympic stars take talent test
29 Oct 09 |  Olympics
GB Taekwondo eye new talent plan
23 Oct 09 |  Taekwondo
The 2012 X Factor
03 May 07 |  Olympics 2012
A-Z of Paralympic classification
28 Aug 08 |  Disability Sport
Disability Sport on the BBC
02 Nov 09 |  Disability Sport

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