‘To Rio and beyond’
Lapthorne has an eye on Tokyo as well as 2016 Paralympic gold medal
WHILE gold at next year’s Paralympics in Rio remains his first target, Eastcote wheelchair tennis star Andy Lapthorne insists he will not be content to stop there.
Three years ago Lapthorne made his Paralympics bow at London 2012, failing to make it past the first round of the singles before progressing all the way to the doubles final alongside partner Peter Norfolk where they faced American duo Nicholas Taylor and David Wagner.
Unfortunately for the Brits it would end in defeat as multiple Grand Slam and Super Series winner Norfolk fell short of making it three consecutive Paralympic gold medals.
The Quadfather, as he was named, retired the following year but Lapthorne has been sure to pick up the baton.
The 24-year-old won his first Grand Slam singles title at the US Open last year, while he started 2015 by securing his fourth Australian Open quad doubles title alongside Wagner, before winning his second quad doubles Super Series title with fellow Brit Antony Cotterill at April’s South Africa Open.
It all leaves thing shaping up nicely for the battle for Rio 2016 qualification, although Lapthorne has his eyes on a number of accolades.
“For me it’s been quite a successful year so far. I won my first singles Grand Slam at the US Open last year and then defended my doubles title at the Australian Open. I’d love to be number one it’s a massive goal for me,” said Lapthorne, who is currently ranked second and third in the doubles and singles quads world rankings respectively.
“It’s a massive motivation for me to go to Rio and get a gold. In terms of going to London and coming away with silver, it was great but we were aiming for gold. It reminds me to keep going that extra bit in training.
“We are in the qualification period for Rio, so that’s constantly on my mind.
“I love this sport and there are a few records my old friend Peter Norfolk has which I will be trying to beat. I still speak to him on a weekly basis and he’s a close friend. I’d love to get the results and titles he has, I see myself going on past Rio to Tokyo [2020 Olympics] definitely.
“We’ve got a lot of young and hungry players coming through and other countries are really starting to take notice of us, not just in the quads competition either.”
Lapthorne recently took a break from training to throw his support behind this year’s National Paralympic Day, which will take place on July 26.
Designed to help continue the legacy of London 2012, the annual event at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will feature elite athletics and swimming, as well as promoting disability sports, and Lapthorne admits the timing could not be better with Rio fast approaching.
“It’s a great event, it showcases Paralympic sport to the public. It’s great to be able to go back to the Olympic Park and see the amazing work that’s been done there,” he added.
“It’s such an amazing venue. My family are from around that neck of the woods and there are some really special memories for me.
“It just gives people the opportunity to come together and celebrate what they love about the Paralympics.
“The countdown to Rio is also well and truly on and this is a great reminder of what they can expect to see next year.”
Tickets for National Paralympic Day are available at http://www. ticketmaster.co.uk/npd2015/.
n SO CLOSE: Britain’s Andy Lapthorne (right) and Peter Norfolk after losing in the final of the Quad Doubles during the London 2012 Paralympic Games
Photo by Action Images