Julie_ONeill_thumb130_One year from today (September 8), the Paralympic sports world will be celebrating the eve of the Closing Ceremony for the London 2012 Games.

There are so many scenarios that may play out for athletes, coaches, teams and nations during the 10 days of Paralympic competition in London. All too often, predictions and forecasts of performance are over-simplified and the most critical component – preparation – is overlooked or not given the emphasis it deserves.

Team USA is focusing on being prepared for the podium in London, with an emphasis on top performances in key international competitions, such as the 2011 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships which start this week in Roskilde, Denmark.

Additional preparation for team selections and trials events are well underway, as is planning for pre-Games training camps, to be held in the UK or elsewhere in Europe in the days leading up to the 2012 Opening Ceremonies next August.

Finally, Team USA will ensure that coaches and team managers are informed of critical logistics details, encompassing everything from the village and venues to travel and uniforms.

Planning, strategy and organisation are all key components of Team USA being poised to have exceptional performances on the field of play during the London 2012 Games and beyond.

As someone very wise once told me, preparation will take you across the finish line far ahead of those without it.

Julie O'Neill is a team leader of Paralympic sport performance at the United States Olympic Committee.