YEP Says: Paralympians do themselves so proud at the Rio extravaganza

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BRITAIN’S Paralympians have done their country and themselves proud thanks to series of brilliant, world-beating performances in Rio, and they should be welcomed home with all the acclaim elite sports people deserve.

It could hardly have been hoped after the outstanding success of the 2012 Paralympics in London that the British team could exceed their astonishing medals tally of that golden summer.

But that is exactly what they have achieved, with Yorkshire Paralympians leading the way, among them Halifax wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft, Rawdon cyclist David Stone and Leeds swimmer Claire Cashmore.

And what a glorious finale for Leeds’s Kadeena Cox, who was chosen as flag bearer for the closing ceremony.

Britain’s paralympic team chef de mission Penny Briscoe said the honour was richly deserved.

The Paralympics triumph has added further lustre to a glorious summer for British sport following the wonderful success of our Olympics team, proving beyond doubt that our country stands in the front rank of the world’s greatest sporting nations.

There will be victory parades when the team flies back from Rio, and our country’s people should turn out in huge numbers to join the celebrations.

There is another, equally important, reason to acclaim the Paralympians. Their achievements in attaining the pinnacles of their chosen sports are all the more admirable for the difficulties they have overcome.

And their spirit of determination that no obstacle should be allowed to get in the way of achievement is one that will resonate powerfully with disabled people in all aspects of life.

Britain has made great progress in recent years in its understanding of the needs of disabled people, and taking positive action to make life better. But there remains much to do, in areas ranging from access to services to using public transport.

The success of our Paralympians should spur us on as a society to redouble our efforts to do the utmost for the disabled, and make the legacy of Rio one of which the entire country can be proud.

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PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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