Hunts’ Paralympians gear up for London 2012

SAWTRY’S Paralympian Lauren Steadman checked in at the Team GB’s swimmers holding camp in Manchester on Sunday and revealed how proud she is to be representing Great Britain at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

The 19-year-old, who swam for Britain in the Beijing Paralympics four years ago, has been selected by her country as a relay racer, and she told The Hunts Post: “To represent your country at any event is priceless. To represent Great Britain at the greatest Games yet and in the capital of our country is an honour beyond measure.”

Steadman, pictured right, was selected as part of the Team GB squad in April, but has been training exclusively for the Games for more than a year. She said: “My last year has been completely geared towards racing at London 2012.

“I moved to Portsmouth to study for university and train under coach Paul Hogg with the Portsmouth Northsea Swim squad.

“My usual training consists of 22 hours a week both in and out of the water.”

Steadman was born in 1992 without her right hand and arm below the elbow joint. When she was very young she received swimming lessons from Olympian and world champion Mark Foster who still lives in St Neots. But things got really serious when she attended the Splash Academy at Hinchingbrooke School and was coached by Patsy Coleman.

After moving to Kelly College in Devon, Steadman linked up with another Olympian, Robin Brew, who was her coach when she was unexpectedly called up by Team GB at the age of 15 for the 2008 Games in China.

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Now millions of Team GB fans will watch her race at the Paralympic Games when she competes at the London Aquatic Centre in the 400 metres freestyle relay on September 4, the 50 metre freestyle relay the following day – and the 100 metre freestyle relay the day after that.

“Watching all the other Team GB athletes has been really inspiring,” she said.

Huntingdonshire will also be represented at the Games by sprinter Jonnie Peacock, who has trained at the St Ivo Outdoor Centre, and sitting volleyball player Rob Richardson.

Richardson, a 29-year-old property management consultant from Buckden, was born with a deformity and had his right leg amputated below the knee when he was 15.

He told The Hunts Post in April: “Perceptions are gradually changing about what the Paralympic Games are all about – the patronising attitudes seem to be shifting.

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

The London 2012 Paralympic Games begin on Wednesday, August 29, and are being broadcast by Channel 4.