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Olympics countdown in Kent

PUBLISHED: 11:21 16 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:33 20 February 2013

Olympics countdown in Kent

Olympics countdown in Kent

It started as a way of using sport to help injured war veterans rehabilitate but now the Paralympics has grown to become the most high-profile international event promoting disability sport and disabled athletes

Olympics countdown in Kent

It started as a way of using sport to help injured war veterans rehabilitate but now the Paralympics has grown to become the most high-profile international event promoting disability sport and disabled athletes

In 2008, around 4,000 performers competed at Beijing, where 146 countries fought for a place on the medals table.

Great Britain won 102 medals in total, 42 gold, 29 silver and 31 bronze which made us second only to China.

In 2012, Kent will have extra special reason for celebration as local athletes from our home turf look set to be selected for Team Great Britain.

Sportsmen and women such as Nicholas Boylan from Herne Bay, Emma Kent from Dartford and Kelsie Gibson from Maidstone are strong contenders to be competing at the Paralympic Games and many others have battled it out at world championships.

A group of around 14 athletes have been identified by Kent County Councils Sport, Leisure and Olympics service as those who have the potential to be Paralympians for London 2012 to help them receive the help they need to train and achieve their best. The service aims to raise standards of sports performance and encourage excellence. Through the Free Access for National Sportspeople scheme, support is available for training, equipment and finding the right facilities.

The talented disabled performers in Kent represent a range of sports from swimming and athletics, to table tennis and rifle shooting. One particular sport which has really taken off in Kent is Sitting Volleyball. Similar to standard volleyball but with a lower net, players must stay seated during the game.

In a bid to develop the game in the UK and create a team for 2012, Kent has four purpose-built floors. Top athletes Claire Harvey from Ashford, Louise Darby from Sevenoaks and Helen Sole from Canterbury are already rising stars and former Gurkha soldier Netra Rana from Folkestone, who lost a leg in Afganistan, is now competing at world championship events.

Over in West Kent, the Dartford Judo Centre has been chosen as the official national training venue for the British Judo Association for athletes from across the country wanting to be considered for a place in Team GB. It is also the national Paralympic Performance Centre for visually impaired and blind judo for the South East.

As well as cheering on our local sporting champions, the Paralympics is also a chance to find out how to get into disability sport in Kent.

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