By Duncan Mackay

Jenni Banks head and shouldersDecember 10 - Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's former mentor, Jenni Banks, has been appointed as UK Athletics' new wheelchair racing coach to help the team prepare for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, it was announced today. 

Banks had previously worked for the Australian Paralympic Committee for eight years as director of sport and high performance manager, including during Sydney 2000, when the host nation finshed top of the medals table with a total of 149 medals, 63 gold.

It capped a remarkable rise for Australia under Banks having finished improved from seventh at Barcelona in 1992. 

Banks has personally coached athletes to a total of 42 Paralympic, Olympic and World Championship medals, as well as 40 world records.

She has been awarded various coaching awards both in Australia and the United Kingdom, including the Australian Coaching Council Young Coach of the Year Award, the Australian Sports Medal and the Mussabini Medal.

Price, a former top-class hockey player before her career was ended by a serious knee injury, was also inducted into Sports Coach UK's Coaching Hall of Fame

"I'm delighted to be joining UKA," said Banks, a graduate of University of Western Australia School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health.

"The London 2012 Paralympic Games were a breakthrough Games for the Paralympic Movement, in particular, for the way that they were embraced by the UK. 

"For the first time, the quality of Paralympic athletic performances were really recognised and appreciated and Paralympic athletes became household names.

"As a long-time coach in Paralympic sport that was incredibly satisfying to see and it makes the UK an exciting place to coach. 

"I am also delighted to be working with Paula Dunn following her recent appointment as head coach."

Britain finished third overall in the athletics medal table at London 2012, behind China and Russia, with a total of 29 medals, including 11 gold.

British wheelchair athletes were among the stars of the whole Games with David Weir winning four gold medals and Hannah Cockroft establishing herself as a rising star with two titles.

Hannah Cockroft winning T34 200m finalHannah Cockroft, winner of the T34 100 and 200 metres at London 2012, will be among the athletes working with new wheelchair racing coach Jenni Banks

"I've admired from afar the transformation in the GB Paralympic athletics team and support structures, led by Peter Eriksson, but am also aware that, no matter how successful, there is always room for improvement," said Banks.

The Perth-based Banks currently runs her own coaching consultancy, Creating Excellence Consulting, and also works as a handcycle coordinator and assistant coach for Cycling Australia on a part-time basis.

"It is great that a coach of Jenni's calibre is joining our Paralympic programme at such a crucial time," said Neil Black, UK Athletics' performance director.

"With Paula Dunn's appointment to head coach and now Jenni's appointment as wheelchair racing coach, I feel the Paralympic team is in the best possible place to push on from its amazing performances this summer towards an even greater performance in Rio in 2016."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
November 2012: Dunn confirmed as new UK Athletics Paralympics head coach
November 2012: Exclusive - Eriksson is almost impossible to replace, says Cockroft
October 2012: Eriksson confirmed as new UK Athletics head coach