Sawtry Col­lege pair will lead the Team GB medal charge

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Sport - By Bob French bob.french@jpress.co.uk

Two for­mer Sawtry Col­lege stu­dents will be spear­head­ing Team GB’s bid for more Par­a­lympics glory in Rio. Four years ago in Lon­don 2012, the hosts claimed 120 medals, 34 of them gold, to fin­ish third in the medal ta­ble.

They’re out to im­prove on that and Lauren Stead man (23) from Saw try and Matt Skelh on (31) from Stil­ton are twoof the big­gest gold medal con ten­ders in the 264-strong Great Bri­tain team.

As reign­ing world and Euro­pean para triathlon cham­pion, Stead man has been made the favourite to top the podium on Septem­ber 11. But she ad­mits claim­ing gold won’t be as easy as the sta­tis­tics per­haps sug­gest.

Af­ter com­pet­ing at the Bei­jing and Lon­don Par­a­lympics as a swim­mer, Stead­man switched to traithlon and she soon be­came very, very good at it.

In fact, up un­til July 23 she was un­beaten. That proud record came to an end in a World Cham­pi­onship race in Rotterdam when she crashed on the bike sec­tion and had to re­tire.

She was taken to hospi­tal for X-rays on her elbow and face, but there was no se­ri­ous dam­age done and she’s fit and rar­ing to go.

And as the ex­cite­ment con­tin­ues to bub­ble with the race just over a week away, Stead-man in­sists sheis de­ter­mined to suc­ceed to thank those who have helped her on her jour­ney to Rio.

She said: “A lot of peo­ple have in­vested their time and ef­fort in me so it’s not just me rac­ing as the ath­lete.

“It would be fan­tas­tic to bring home that gold medal, es­pe­cially a Par­a­lympic medal, for the coun­try, and I’m do­ing it just as much for ev­ery­one else who has be­lief in me as much as my­self.

“I’ m definitely ex­cited ,” she said, “but although I’m go­ing in as world number one, any­thing can hap­pen - just like it did in Rotterdam.

“The rest of the world sees me as favourite be­cause I have such a lead at the mo­ment, but I’m aware that ev­ery other girl around the world is try­ing to beat me so I’ m ex­pect­ing quite tough com­pe­ti­tion in Rio.”

Skelh on mean­while is con­fi­dent he can win an­other Par­a­lympic medal.

He’ll be com­pet­ing in his third suc­ces­sive Par­a­lympics and he’s de­ter­mined to keep up a 100 per cent medal-win­ning record hav­ing won sil­ver and bronze medal sin Lon­don and a gold in Bei­jing in 2008.

The cur­rent world record holder in the the R6 50m air ri­fle prone mixed SH1 event said: “I have to be con­fi­dent, but I’m not tak­ing any­thing for granted. The stan­dard is so high, one poor shot could cost you ev­ery­thing.

“I’ll be com­pet­ing against the same shoot­ers in Rio so I know I can beat them all, but I need to be at my best. I’m ex­cited, but I’m also very ner­vous. I al­ways get ner­vous be­fore a big event, but when we start com­pet­ing I’m sure I will be fine. I have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence now so I know what to ex­pect.”

Lauren Stead­man is favourite to strike gold in the triathlon.

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