“I’m absolutely buzzing. The Paralympics is the absolute pinnacle of our sport..."
The British Paralympic Association (BPA) has announced the judoka who will represent Great Britain at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
In a team that blends Games experience with up-and-coming talent, the four athletes Sam Ingram, Jonathan Drane, Chris Skelley and Jack Hodgson become the first athletes selected for Rio 2016 this year.
London 2012 silver medallist Ingram (-90kg) will be competing in his third consecutive Games, with Drane, Skelley and Hodgson all aiming to impress on their Paralympic debut.
Ingram, who also won bronze in Beijing 2008, will be looking to reach the podium for the third time in Rio.
“My experiences in London have really spurred me on to Rio, and I’ve been working incredibly hard to ensure that I can give it everything when I go to compete,” Ingram. “The standard of competition is so high that every day counts. We’ve got months of intensive training ahead but I’m ready for the challenge.”
Drane (-81kg), who fought on the Great British senior squad before the diagnosis of his visual impairment, has made his mark on the international scene, winning World Championships bronze in 2014.
“Injury has been a challenge but I’m back in training and am really focussed on making sure my rivals know they’re up against a truly formidable opponent in Rio,” Drane said.
Skelley (-100kg) won bronze at the recent European Championships and is looking forward to representing ParalympicsGB for the first time in Rio.
“I’m absolutely buzzing,” Skelley said. “The Paralympics is the absolute pinnacle of our sport and I’m determined to go out there and show people the kind of performances that I know I’m capable of. I can’t wait to represent my country and it’s also great to showcase visually impaired judo – this sport means everything to me.”
Hodgson (+100kg), another bronze medallist from the 2015 European Championships, said:
“This is a great moment for us to enjoy as athletes, particularly because we know how much work it’s taken to reach this point, but now we’ll return to training more focussed than ever on our preparations for the Games.”
Penny Briscoe, ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission for Rio 2016, said:
“The inclusion of three new athletes pays tribute to the positive training environment created at the British Judo Centre of Excellence in Walsall and I’d like to commend the work led by [VI Judo Head Coach] Ian Johns to help develop British Judo’s programme for visually impaired [VI] athletes.”
The team announcement is the first of 2016 and comes just a few weeks after the launch of the BPA’s new campaign: ‘Supercharge ParalympicsGB.’ The campaign aims to get the nation behind ParalympicsGB in 2016. The public can help ‘supercharge’ the team by fundraising, donating and signing up to follow their progress at paralympics.org.uk/supercharge.
The four athletes join Helena Lucas (sailing) on the team sheet for Rio, with more athletes due to be selected over the coming months.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.