FLYING START FOR PARALYMPICS: Families are so proud

Dorset Echo: BIGGEST FANS: Victoria Rickham, Elethia Rickham and David Rickham, sister, mum and dad of Paralympic sailor Alex Rickham, at Castle Cove Sailing Club BIGGEST FANS: Victoria Rickham, Elethia Rickham and David Rickham, sister, mum and dad of Paralympic sailor Alex Rickham, at Castle Cove Sailing Club

FAMILIES spoke of their pride after watching their loved-ones out on the water.

While the Paralympic sailors are putting their all into their medal bids, mums, dads and siblings are willing them on from the shore of Portland Harbour.

Alex Rickham ’s sister Victoria spoke of the ‘limitless’ amount of hard work her sister had put in to reaching the top.

Alex and her teammate Niki Birrell are looking to achieve a medal in the Skud-18 two-person keelboat.

Victoria said: “They did really well yesterday. Today they’re fourth, which still keeps them in the running at these early stages.

“But we’re tense because we know they are going to be disappointed. My sister channels her anger in to driving her to perform better, so we’re hoping it will drive her on. They’ve put in limitless amounts of hard work.

“They got together nine months before the Beijing Games, and they did really well, we were proud.

“Looking back in hindsight, that was really the first big part of their preparation for this year.

“They have done so much work: reassessing, streamlining, and getting the right people to work with them.

“My sister is relatively new to sailing and it’s been a huge learning curve. She’s really up to speed and has worked so hard.”

John Robertson ’s dad Ian said he was ‘delirious’ with pride to see his son in action in the Sonar three person keelboat class.

He said: “It goes deeper than to say I’m proud. I rarely communicate with him when he’s competing but he knows I’m here. As long as he’s happy, I’m happy.”

Both added that they hoped having the Paralympics in home waters will raise the profile of Paralympic sport and encourage others to get involved.

Mr Robertson said: “It’s changing people’s attitude to disability.

“There’s still a way to go, but things are definitely changing.”

Miss Rickham added: “Having the Paralympics in Britain is amazing. It’s signalling to the rest of the world to keep up.

“So many people get confused between special and Paralympic – these are serious athletes, it’s just that they have disabilities.

“With what they have overcome, they’re even more incredible.”

  • CULTURAL events will be running throughout the Paralympics. As part of the Maritime Mix London 2012 Cultural Olympiad by the Sea and the b-side multimedia arts festival there will be a whole host of events taking place in Weymouth and Portland until September 9.

Events include Babygrow at Fortuneswell laundrette, and talking sculptures at Chiswell Community Garden as part of play Waiting for Godot.

For more information visit maritimemix2012.co.uk and www.b-side.org.uk

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