Two of Britain’s medal hopes for this summer’s Paralympics have spoken of their dreams of winning wheelchair tennis gold at London 2012.
Gordon Reid and Andy Lapthorne were speaking as ParalympicsGB announced the 10-strong squad who will compete in two months’ time.
Reid, ranked 10 in the world, is easily the youngest of the top seeds in the men’s division, at the age of just 20.
Despite his age, this will be his second Paralympics. “The dream since Beijing is to be on top of the podium with a gold medal round my neck. I don’t see any reason why that can’t happen. I am working so hard to make that possible.”
He takes confidence from two victories over the world number two. “I am up there with these guys and I know I can beat them with the home crowd behind me.”
He said the home support would be a “huge advantage” for Britain’s Paralympians. “I am hoping for a huge reception, a buzzing atmosphere, the louder the better.”
He wants to be a role model for young people, disabled and non-disabled, as he is inspired by fellow Scottish tennis star Andy Murray, who will be competing at the Olympics and grew up close to where Reid trains in Stirling.
Reid sees the Paralympics as an opportunity to “prove to the British public when we are going to have the most exposure to them that just because you are disabled, just because you’re in a wheelchair, you’re an amputee or whatever, you can lead a normal life and play sport at high levels.”
Fellow squad member Andy Lapthorne is targeting a gold medal in the quad division that has been dominated for the last two Paralympics by his team-mate and doubles partner Peter Norfolk.
Currently ranked four in the world, his “dream” is to beat Norfolk in the final. Although he has never beaten him, he says he is “getting closer and closer” and won the first set 6-0 the last time they played, while he has also taken a set 6-0 off the world number one, the American David Wagner.
He said: “If I can just put it all together for two sets there is no reason why there can’t be two gold medals in my pocket come the end of London.”
Another advantage and motivation is that his dad lives near the Olympic Park, in Hainault. “There is no second chance. I want to win in London, I want to win at home. Winning four years later [in Rio] would not be the same.”
He is already experiencing huge levels of support when he goes out near his home in Ruislip, west London, with strangers telling him to “do it for us” and “do it for Ruislip”.
He said: “It’s really nice to see people from the local area really supporting what I am trying to do and being proud of what I am. It’s quite a nice feeling.”
As for the future, he said many people see him dominating the sport for years to come and “taking the mantle” from Norfolk, but he is keen eventually to move into the media, and raises the possibility of quitting the sport if he was to win two golds at his home games.
He said: “When I have set myself a goal, I achieve it, and then I move onto the next goal.”
The other members of the squad are Jordanne Whiley, Louise Hunt, Lucy Shuker, Marc McCarroll, Alex Jewitt, David Phillipson and Jamie Burdekin, who won bronze alongside Norfolk in the quad doubles in Beijing.