Swansea Paralympians go for gold
Swansea University student James Roberts will be going for gold in the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, which start on Friday, September 6.
James, aged 22, from Prestatyn in Denbighshire, has recently completed the first year of his Sports Science degree. He will be competing in the trunk and arms mixed double scull (TA2x) with teammate Karen Cromie.
James’ opening heats take place on September 9, between 0800 and 1040 (BST). The repecharge takes place on September 10 at the same times, and the final is on September 11, also at the same time.
James said: “I’m overjoyed at being selected for my first games. It’s every sportsman’s dream to compete at this level, and I’m really looking forward to taking part.”
Before being asked to take up adaptive rowing by Disability Sport Wales, James swam for the GB Development squad in 2004 and 2005. He has now been rowing for two years and this is just his third competitive season.
Adaptive rowing is rowing or sculling for competitors who have a disability; although adaptive means that it is the equipment – and not the sport – that is adapted to the athlete.
2008 marks rowing’s debut in the Paralympic Games, and James and Karen are part of a nine-strong squad fielded by GB Rowing.
Two of the University’s alumni will also be competing in Beijing.
Swimmer Liz Johnson, aged 22, graduated in 2007 in Business Management with Finance and still trains with British Swimming's High Performance Centre at the Wales National Pool Swansea.
Liz competed in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and went on to compete at the Paralympic Games in Athens, 2004, returning with a prized silver medal. She then went on to pick up three golds – setting a world-record breaking in the process – at the World Championships in Durban 2006, and a bronze medal at last year’s Visa Paralympic World Cup. She struck gold again in the 100m breaststroke at the British Championships in Sheffield this year.
John McFall, aged 27, is a sprinter who graduated in Sports Science in 2004. He had his right leg amputated above the knee as a result of a motorcycle accident in 2000 and now competes using a carbon fibre running blade.
In 2007, he was ranked first in the world for the 200 metres and second for the 100 metres. He took gold at the 2007 Visa Paralympic World Cup and, in September 2007, he won the 100 metres and 200 metres events at the World Wheelchair and Amputee Games.