Leeds Paralympic stars going for glory

Kadeena Cox.
Kadeena Cox.
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The Olympics may be over - but the journey to gold medal glory is just beginning for Leeds’s Paralympic athletes hoping to make our city proud.

Paralympic sports stars flying the flag for Leeds include wheelchair sprinter Kadeena Cox and para-cyclist David Stone as the Games get underway in Rio today.

Yorkshire boasts more than 30 athletes in Team GB’s Paralympic squad, who are hoping to emulate the stunning success of the nation’s golden Olympic games.

And good luck messages have flooded in for medal hopefuls from civic leaders.

Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We would like to wish Team GB and all our Leeds and Yorkshire athletes the very best of luck in the Rio Paralympic Games. We cannot wait to see them perform on one of the world’s biggest sporting stages, and as always all of our local athletes can be guaranteed of tremendous support from the Leeds and Yorkshire public.”

After a glittering ceremony to kick off proceedings in Rio last night, the Games start today and two of the region’s stars will be among the first in action.

Castleford’s Leah Evans and Sophie Carrigill, from Wakefield, will represent their nation for the first time when they take on Canada with the women’s wheelchair basketball team in the preliminary event.

Ms Carrigill, 22, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “In terms of expectations, I think we are in the best place possible but that all depends on how we play and compete on the day.

“I think we are in the right mind frame now and working towards reaching a semi-final and giving ourselves a chance of a medal.” Other athletes from Leeds include powerlifter Ali Jawad, swimmer Claire Cashmore and table-tennis player Kim Daybell.

Double gold medal-winning wheelchair sprinter Hannah Cockroft, from Halifax, is also competing in three events.

She has been named as Team GB’s joint athletics captain, and is joined at the games by fellow Calderdale wheelchair stars Karen Darke and Harry Brown.

The squad will be hoping to replicate Team GB’s Paralympic success at London 2012, when they finished third in the medals table and bagged 120 medals - including 34 gold.

Wheelchair rugby player Jamie Stead, from Normanton near Wakefield, is another athlete representing West Yorkshire in the Rio Games.

Leeds’s David Stone, who has won three gold medals and one bronze at Paralympic Games, was awarded an MBE in 2009.