By Tom Degun

Josie Pearson_and_lonodn_2012_medal_Oct_28October 28 – Paralympic discus champion Josie Pearson said that London 2012 "got the ball rolling" in terms of changing attitudes towards disability in the UK.

The 26-year-old (pictured above) from Bristol was paralysed after a major car crash in 2003 that killed her boyfriend. 

She became the first female ever to represent Britain at the Paralympics in wheelchair rugby at Beijing 2008, before switching to athletics.

Pearson won gold in the women's discus F51/52/53 at London 2012 with a world record throw of 6.58 metres, delighting the home crowd at the Olympic Stadium.

Following huge enthusiasm for the Paralympics in Britain, Pearson feels the event could be a turning point for changing attitudes to disability.

"Before London 2012, I'm sure there were a lot of people out there who didn't know much about Paralympic sport and had probably never seen it," Pearson told insidethegames.

"But we saw with the sold-out stadiums and the huge support that there is certainly enthusiasm out there for it.

josie-pearson 2332030bJosie Pearson claimed Paralympic gold in the women’s discus F51/52/53 at London 2012 with a world record throw of 6.58 metres

"You cannot say that we have reached equality with the Olympics just because of London 2012 or anything like that but I think these Paralympics have definitely got the ball rolling in terms of changing attitudes towards disability which is obviously great."

Pearson's next big focus will be the 2013 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships in Lyon which take place in July next year.  

"I'm already starting to think about the 2013 World Champions in Lyon and that is my big goal for next year," she said.

"Hopefully I can get the world title there.

"In 2014, I won't be able to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as my event isn't there but I'm sure I will be at various different competitions in 2014 and 2015.

"But the long-term focus is definitely Rio in 2016.

Josie Pearson_2Josie Pearson recently visited an Asda store in Hereford after being part of the Asda Athlete scheme in 2011, which helped fund her training

"I'm certainly planning to be there and looking to defend my Paralympic title there."

Pearson was speaking at a visit to an Asda store in Hereford, having participated in a 2011 Asda Athlete scheme that helped fund her training on the road to Paralympic glory.

"The funding from Asda was obviously crucial for my training and it really takes a weight off you mind to know that you are being financially supported," she said.

"As well as financial support that allows you to focus on training, they provide practical advice with things like sports psychology and I owe them a huge thanks for helping me get a Paralympic gold medal."

The Asda Athlete scheme, in partnership with SportsAid, has supported more than 1,600 up and coming athletes like Pearson since 2008.

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