PETERBOROUGH’S Paralympic hopefuls were joined by a city sporting legend to encourage fans to support local heroes next year.
Director of Paralympic Integration for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Chris Holmes visited Peterborough Sailabilty at Ferry Meadows yesterday to examine disabled sporting facilities in the city.
Mr Holmes – who was born in Peterborough and won nine swimming gold medals, four silver and one bronze in four Paralympic games – even went for a sail on one of the club’s trimarans, before giving the project the thumbs up.
Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer of all time, who was also in the city to promote ticket sales for next year’s sporting festival said: “Projects like this give disabled people the chance to come and try out sport.
“It is not only encouraging people to have a go at the grass roots, but also the chance for people to get into the national team, and maybe become Paralympians of the future.
“Facilities like this are fantastic, but it is also the phenomenal volunteers who make it as good as it is.
“I was born in Peterborough, and it is great to come back here.
“We want the Paralympics to be a games for everybody, and people from Peterborough will be able to see athletes from the East of England competing in world class venues next year.
“It has been fantastic to see a number of Paralympic hopefuls were also at the centre, including City of Peterborough Swimming Club stars Harriet Lee and Lauren Steadman.”
Lauren, who competed at the Beijing games in 2008 said: “It is fantastic to see Paralympic athletes getting the recognition we deserve.
“Peterborough is known for a lot of things, and it would be great to see it known for athletes who are competing at the games.
“When I was in Beijing it was great to be in a different country, but it will be great to compete in the games in London, when everyone will be rooting for you.”
Harriet, who won the 100m breaststroke gold medal at last year’s world championships, added: “In London family and friends will be able to be there with you.
“There will also be a great atmosphere from the Olympics, which will be good to be part of.
“There will be a number of athletes from Peterborough taking part, so hopefully people can come and support us.”
Councillor Marco Cereste, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “Having people like Chris come to promote the Paralympics here, and having the Olympic Flame coming through the city, really helps put Peterborough on the map. We have some great facilities here that we are proud of.”