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LONDON, August 31, 2012
Laureus World Sports Academy Member and Paralympic legend Tanni Grey-Thompson predicts that the London Paralympic Games will be the best we have ever seen.
Tanni, Britain’s most successful Paralympic athlete with 11 gold medals, told us: “I am so excited about having the Olympics and Paralympics on home soil. As an athlete it would have been just the most amazing thing to compete at that level in my own country. I think it will be the best Paralympics because we have one organising committee that looks across both Games.”
Tanni added: “The way the Paralympics has changed in the last few years has been incredible in terms of it becoming globally known and you have athletes like Oscar Pistorius who are known worldwide. He has been amazing in terms of people understanding what you can achieve if you are a disabled athlete.
“The Paralympics is about elite sport, it is about one person winning and everyone else not. But the Games does have this secondary message: it is about showing what disabled people can do. It was never the ambition of the Paralympics to change lives of disabled people around the world, but it is something that has happened because countries believe that the Paralympics is an important place for them to be.
“I am really looking forward to watching the Paralympics, particularly Dave Weir and Shelly Woods. I have a slight bias here as they are both British athletes. They will do amazingly well. And Tatyana McFadden from the USA is still a very young athlete and is making massive jumps in what she is doing.”
Tanni became paralysed at the age of seven and her father encouraged her to take up sport.
When asked what her particular career highlight was, she said: “It would be the 100 metres in Athens, which was my final Paralympic Games, my fifth Games. I had had a really mixed Games up till then. I had completely bombed out in the 800 metres, which was my strongest event. My 100 was technically my weakest event yet it was just one of the most technically perfect races I have ever done. That just gave me more pleasure than anything else. And I probably would swap my other ten medals to keep that one.”
Sport changed Tanni’s life and she believes it can change other lives, too. “The London Games – Olympics and Paralympics - will be inspirational to lots and lots of young people. Some may go into sport, some may be competitive athletes, some may get involved in coaching, some may get involved in art because they have seen the cultural Olympiad or they have seen the Opening Ceremony. They may become dancers, but young people will use that as something to hold on to and the Games will change their lives.”
Tanni, who, is a member of the House of Lords, the second chamber in the British parliament, is a founder member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, a unique association of the greatest living sports legends, who volunteer their time to support the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which works to improve the lives of children around the world through the use of sport.
She said: “I’m so proud to be part of Laureus because it changes people’s lives. We all recognise that and want to do something that is different to help young people think about sport in a positive way, because you know young people who are involved in sport have better chances of education, have better chance of going into work and they learn how to behave with each other and learn about rules.
“I see the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation growing and developing and having an impact on millions more young people’s lives in the future. I would love to see Laureus in all countries in the world because sport has that power to encourage people to think differently. The young people that we affect today will be the leaders of tomorrow and those are the people that we need to influence to make sure that we do the right thing.”