Buckden paralympian wants gold in London 2012

A 29-YEAR-OLD amputee from Buckden is hoping to strike gold at this year’s London Paralympic Games.

Rob Richardson has worked his way up to captaining the British sitting six-a-side volleyball team after taking up the sport five years ago.

With a record 66 international caps, Rob has taken the national team from a world ranking of 56 to the current position of nine since taking over the captaincy in 2010.

Having represented Great Britain at both the European and World Championships, all that remains is to make the Paralypmic team at the selection process in May.

“Life’s all about embracing opportunities that come your way,” the father-of-one said.

“I got into volleyball just after Britain won the bid for the games in 2005, which meant there was more funding going into the sport. It’s an amazing opportunity and being the captain of the team is a huge honour.”

Rob was 15 when he agreed to have his right leg amputated below the knee. After he had been born with a deformity, doctors said he could either have the foot removed or face a lifetime of operations.

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“It was definitely life-changing,” Rob said, “but I have never, ever regretted it. I sometimes think it’s an easier decision to make when you’re younger – you tend not to think about it so much – you just get on with it. I now mentor other people who are faced with the same situation.”

Every weekday, Rob spends two hours on-court training at Roehampton University, London, a further two hours at the gym and somehow manages to fit in an eight-hour day as a property management consultant in London.

“My family are amazing – very supportive,” he said, adding that he does not get home to Buckden to see his wife Claire and 18-month-old daughter, Grace, as often as he would like.

The next few months Rob will spend in training and, if selected, he will take part in the Team GB launch in the first week of July. Following that, it will off to a training camp before moving to the Olympic Village in mid-August.

But his success to date is not without precedent. His uncles were England cricketers Peter and Dick Richardson and his sister competed for Great Britain at dressage.

“Perceptions are gradually changing about what the Paralympic games are all about – the patronising attitudes seem to be shifting,” he said.

“I’ve got a feeling London’s going to blow it out of the water.”