Ex-Army commando Goddard hopes to drive Britain to Paratriahlon glory at Rio 2016

By Gary Anderson

gary andersonWhen Britain's Jimmy Goddard lines up for the start of the Paratriathlon event at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, it will be 12 years since the former army commando's life changed forever.

The glorious setting of Rio's Copacabana Beach, which will stage the Olympic and Paralympic triathlon competitions in 2016, will be a world away from the colder, damper environs of the Welsh mountains where, in 2004, Goddard was left paralysed from the waist down following a climbing accident.

A talented able bodied triathlete before his accident, it is not inconceivable that the man from Bracknell, Berkshire would have been lining up alongside the Brownlee brothers - Alastair and Jonathan - and taking to the warm Atlantic waters that dance along the sandy shore of this iconic stretch of Brazilian coastline, as part of the British triathlon squad.

Cockroft still riding the London 2012 wave and loving every minute of it

James Crook head and shouldersHannah Cockroft announced herself on the Paralympic athletics scene with a bang in 2010, when she pulled off the remarkable feat of breaking four world records at the British Wheelchair Athletics Association International, before going on to take world titles in the 100 metres and 200m T34 events at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Athletics Championships in Christchurch a year later as a fresh-faced 18-year-old.

And all using a racing chair that was modified by her welder father in Halifax.

"Chuffed to bits" Briscoe sets sights on improving ParalympicsGB performance at Sochi 2014 after Vancouver blank

By Tom Degun

Tom Degun ITG2It was no real surprise earlier this month when the British Paralympic Association (BPA) appointed their performance director Penny Briscoe as the ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

For over a decade now, Briscoe has helped mastermind the British team's performances at the Paralympics, where they have maintained a top three position for the three consecutive Summer Games she has been involved with.

How less than 11 seconds changed Jonnie Peacock's life

Tom Degun ITG2It took less than 11 seconds for Jonnie Peacock to go from promising Paralympic athlete to sporting superstar.

Well, 10.90sec, to be precise.

That is the time it took the 19-year-old single-leg amputee from Cambridge to win 100 metres T44 final in what was the blue-ribbon event of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

"If Para-Taekwondo gets into the Paralympics all my dreams will have come true," proclaims WTF President Choue

By Lauren Mattera at Santa Cruz in Aruba

Lauren MatteraTaekwondo has now established itself as a sport which embraces everyone regardless of disability, gender or race, and through this progression, Para-Taekwondo has evolved to the point where those with the physical ability and confidence to overpower their difficulties can do, and it has aspired to become a sport made up of many inspirational values and ideals.

Since 2006, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Paralympic Committee and its President Tae Eun Lee of Canada have worked hard at enhancing three main aspects of Para-Taekwondo – participation, marketing and member federations involvement.

They have aimed at creating a definition to ensure the correct amount of guidance was received in order for athletes to succeed and to ensure entry into the Paralympic Games.

The Paralympics are closer to our lives than the Olympics, claims Sainsbury's chief executive

By Tom Degun

Tom Degun - ITGIn the grand story of the London 2012 Games, May 4, 2010, will probably be only a small footnote even though it signalled an historic moment and led to controversy that went far behind these shores.

It was the day that retail giant Sainsbury's were officially unveiled by London 2012 as the first ever Tier One Paralympic-only sponsor.

The multi-million pound deal remains one of the biggest ever deals for the Paralympic Movement, giving Sainsbury's exclusive rights to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

We couldn't be happier with the London Paralympics but we will be doing our Games the Brazilian way, says CPB President

By Tom Degun

Tom Degun_-_ITGAfter a hugely successful London 2012 Paralympic Games, the spotlight has turned well and truly on Rio de Janeiro and a high bar has been set for the Brazilian city after International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven declared Britain's event the "greatest Paralympics ever".

One thing for certain is that Brazil will be staging a very different Games. While Britain is steeped in Paralympic history, the Games having been created in Stoke Mandeville in 1948, Brazil is positioning itself as its future with Rio 2016 set to be the first time the Paralympics have been staged in South America.

There will be several key figures involved in ensuring the Rio 2016 Paralympics runs smoothly but perhaps none will be more important than the President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB) Andrew Parsons.

Tom Degun: There is a reason why wheelchair rugby is still known as murderball

Tom Degun_-_ITGWhen it first started, it wasn't called wheelchair rugby.

It was in fact known by the rather ominous name of murderball.

As the legend goes, murderball was introduced to the United States in 1981 by a man named Brad Mikkelsen.

With the aid of the University of North Dakota's Disabled Student Services, Mikkelsen formed the first American team called the Wallbangers. The first North American competition was held shortly after in 1982.

Several years later, as the sport began to grow internationally, it was officially changed from murderball to the far less sinister wheelchair rugby.

Fortunately, for fans of the hard-hitting discipline, the rules have remained virtually unchanged and the power, skill and sheer brutality that make it so incredibly watchable are still its core features.

During the London 2012 Paralympics, the sport was housed in the 12,000 capacity Basketball Arena on the Olympic Park and, as with most sports at these incredible Games, a full crowd was in attendance for virtually every match.

Steve Brown_Kylie_Grimes_David_Anthony_Aaron_Phipps_and_Mike_KerrSteve Brown, Kylie Grimes, David Anthony, Aaron Phipps and Mike Kerr of Great Britain's wheelchair rugby squad

I have encountered the sport several times in my career so far, including at a superb Great Britain exhibition match in the streets of central London not too long ago, but my busy schedule at London 2012 left me resigned to watching the majority of the wheelchair rugby competition on the giant monitors at the Main Press Centre (MPC).

However, there was one match that I refused to miss and that was the gold medal game.

I had been expecting to see a repeat of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic final, and indeed the 2010 World Championship final, where the United States had defeated Australia on both occasions.

However, a major shock in the semi-final saw Canada edge a dramatic 50-49 win over reigning Paralympic and world champions to claim a surprise final berth.

There were no such problems on the other side of the draw as Australia kept to the script with a comfortable 59-45 win over Japan to book their place in the gold medal match and set up an intriguing clash.

As I arrived at the gleaming Basketball Arena, which will sadly be taken down now the Games are over, there was an air of anticipation ahead of the match.

The US had just taken the bronze with a 53-43 win over Japan but a huge collection of green and gold shirts in the crowd showed that the majority of the 12,000 who were in attendance to see Australia march to glory.

Most of the green and gold shirts had "BATT 3" plastered across the back of them and for those who have any really knowledge of wheelchair rugby it is not hard to guess why.

Canadas Zak_Madell_L_crashes_into_Australias_Ryley_Batt_CCanada's Zak Madell (L) crashes into Australia's Ryley Batt (C) during the London 2012 gold medal wheelchair rugby match

The formidable Ryley Batt is still only 23-years-old but is already the veteran of three Paralympic Games, including London 2012, and has for several years been regarded as the best wheelchair rugby player on the planet.

His story is also a fascinating one.

Born without legs, Batt required surgery to separate his webbed fingers and until the age of 12, he did not use a wheelchair, preferring to move around on a skateboard.

He was finally convinced to use a wheelchair when he saw a demonstration of wheelchair rugby at his school and after taking up the sport later that year, he quickly became addicted.

His huge talent soon became clear and Batt became the youngest Paralympic rugby player in the world at the age of 15 when he went to Athens 2004. He returned to the Games in Beijing in 2008 to help the team to silver but London finally saw the Australian attend a Paralympics at the peak of his powers.

The gold medal match saw some huge collisions and heavy knockdowns that continually drew gasps from the crowd. But all the while, Batt appeared on a different planet. Try as they might, Canada simply couldn't deal with the pace and movement of the Australian as he constantly ghosted through their vicious defence with apparent ease to leave them bemused.

The giant Batt also proved a titan in the Australian defence, rarely coming off second best in a collision and making hits so big that the term "murder" looked like it might reappear in the official vocabulary of the sport.

Ryley Batt_10-09-12Ryley Batt celebrates winning gold in the mixed wheelchair rugby against Canada at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

He ended with an unbelievable 37 goals in the final, over half of Australia's points as they won 66-51, but Batt himself had not realised this in his one-man demolition job.

"Was it 37?" he told me in the mixed zone straight after the game with a smirk before quickly recomposing himself.

"It's a team sport though.

"It's fantastic to score goals of course, but the work of the boys out there who were screening for me, the low-pointers out there, the mid-pointers, high-pointers, they've all done a fantastic job, and they allow me to look good on court when they probably do all the work for me."

It was very modest of the wheelchair rugby star to say but the rest of the team, and indeed every wheelchair rugby player at London 2012, deserves huge credit.

They put on a pure exhibition of brilliant sport, which like its able-bodied counterpart, featured tactics, pace, power and, of course, the brutal hits.

As the show ended, I heard a small handful of spectators who had very much enjoyed the match, enquire why rugby is not at the Olympics as well.

I pointed out to them that the sport would be making its long-awaited return to the Olympics (having last appeared at the Paris Games in 1924) at Rio 2016 in the form of rugby sevens.

They seemed pleased and so they should be.

It promises to be a spectacular event, and with two servings of murderball in Rio in four years, rugby and wheelchair rugby could prove a show stealer in Brazil.

Tom Degun is a reporter for insidethegames
Page 1 of 32