Paralympians begin gold rush quest

The Bolton News: Sarah Storey will be in action on day one of the Paralympics Sarah Storey will be in action on day one of the Paralympics

Britain's Paralympians will be hoping for an early gold rush today as the Games gets under way in earnest.

Last night saw a stunning opening to the London 2012 games as more than 62,000 cheering fans packed into the Olympic Stadium in Stratford to officially open the event.

And today, it is the turn of the competitors, as early medal hopefuls including swimmer-turned cyclist Sarah Storey, shooter Di Coates and Ben Quilter, who will be going for gold in judo.

Paralympics veteran Storey, 34, has a truly remarkable story, having already achieved 18 medals - 16 of which were awarded as a swimmer before her switch from the pool to the bike ahead of Beijing 2008.

Storey, who was born with a deformed left hand, will appear at the velodrome from 1040 in the C5 Individual Pursuit, having won the C4 in Beijing. This is her sixth Games and she is chasing her eighth gold.

Also appearing on the track is six-time Paralympic champion Darren Kenny, who has restricted movement down his right side following a car crash aged 18. He defends his 1km Time Trial title alongside fellow Brit Rik Waddon.

Coates - who at 58 is taking part in a British record-equalling eighth games - will be gunning for her fourth title in the women's R2 10m Air Rifle standing event from noon. She is Britain's most experienced competitor and the star, who has spina bifida, is the only person to have competed in front of a British Paralympian crowd before.

The 1984 Paralympics was split between New York and England when wheelchair athletes with spinal injuries competed at Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire.

UK Sport have set ParalympicsGB the minimum target of winning 103 medals from at least 12 different sports, with the overall goal of once again finishing second in the medal table. Britain won 102 medals, including 42 golds, in Beijing four years ago to claim second place for a third consecutive Paralympic Games.

Ben Quilter, who is visually impaired, will be going for gold on the mat, as he takes part in the under 60kg category in judo.

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