Team GB not given Automatic Selection Yet
The British Paralympic Association today announced that it has accepted the host country slots for the London 2012 Paralympic Games for Wheelchair Fencing but that the decision for Goalball (both men and women’s squads) and Women’s Sitting Volleyball was being deferred until February 2012.
Explaining the decision, BPA CEO Tim Hollingsworth said:
“I’m delighted that we have been able to confirm the host country slots for Wheelchair Fencing. The sport has shown real progress since Beijing, where only one athlete competed. They now have a strong squad that are demonstrating competitive results, with a number of at hletes on track to qualify by right and eight athletes reaching the last sixteen at major competitions this year. It has been encouraging to see a cohort of young athletes emerge as well, indicating that beyond London, the prospects are positive for Rio.
“The decision for Goalball and Women’s Sitting Volleyball is not a no, it is a deferral at this stage. Both sports have a tougher challenge to meet credible performance standards for London as neither sport competed in Beijing or Athens. It is therefore right that they have longer to continue developing prior to any final decision having to be made.
“As an organisation we have been working very closely with both squads for the past couple of years, including engaging them directly in our supportive Talent Transition Programme. We are now equally committed to continue to work closely with them towards the February review. At the same time we are serious about ensuring that every athlete and sport that goes to these games is able to match our clear criteria for credible performance.”
Justine Willmott, Performance Manager for British Disabled Fencing Association said “We're delighted with the news that the BPA has decided to accept the host country slots allocated for Wheelchair Fencing at the London 2012 Paralympics. The Wheelchair Fencing Performance Programme has progressed significantly over the last 12 months and the squad has demonstrated real determination to develop. The fencers know that this is an important step but also know that there is a lot of hard work still to do to earn their own place on the team and to be the best prepared they can be in just under 300 days time. We are grateful to BPA’s continued support through the Talent Transition Programme and the Paralympic Potential Talent ID days which have proved invaluable to our sport.”
Richard Callicott, Chair of GB Volleyball said “Whilst we are disappointed not to be given the green light by the BPA at this stage, the players know that it's not a ‘no’ and are all determined to keep going to achieve their goal of competing at London 2012”
Mike Reilly, CEO of Goalball UK said ‘We appreciate that the decision has been deferred to give us further time to develop towards credible performance. I’m sure all the athletes understand that to compete at a home Games is a huge honour and they are determined to get there’.