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Danny Crates is sure these will be best Paralympics in history
DANNY Crates says he’s anticipating the greatest ever Paralympics when the Games get underway in London today.
The 39-year-old, who famously won 800m gold at Athens 2004, admits he’s “insanely jealous” not to be competing himself, but says he can’t wait to get stuck into his reporting role for Channel 4.
And the former Thurrock Harriers club member, who’s done so much to raise the profile of disabled sport, says he believes London 2012 will be the greatest ever Paralympics in terms of performances, profile and inspiring youngsters to take up sport.
“I don’t think anyone could have envisaged how successful London 2012 was going to be, and I believe the Paralympics are going to be outstanding too,” said the former Gable Hall School pupil.
“Even before it starts we know it’s going to be sold out stadiums with people scrambling to get tickets, and that itself is unprecedented.
“The coverage will be better than it’s ever been and it will encourage more and more young disabled people to take up sport.
“I think there will be lots of role models for young disabled children who emerge here and there will be huge legacy from these Games.”
Crates lost his arm in a car crash in 1994 and went on to win bronze in the 400m at Sydney 2000 before he was crowned 800m champion in Athens four years later.
He carried the British flag in Beijing 2008 but injury stopped him competing, and he admits he’d love to have got the chance to step out in front of a partisan home crowd in London.
“I would’ve loved to have been there, of course,” he said.
“But I’m here working for Channel 4 and I hope to bring some good stories out of the Games, and I would have been more devastated if I’d tried to make the Games and didn’t.
“It would have been a long shot for me at 39 – because you don’t get many 39-year-old 800m runners.
“But I will be insanely jealous of those athletes once they are out on the track.”
Crates said Great Britain have some great medal chances on the track and tipped David Weir – who will compete in the T54 800m, 1500m, 5000m and the marathon – as one of our great hopes.
Crates said: “We’ve got lots of young athletes coming through as well.
“You’ve got the likes of Ola Abidogun (T46 100m/200m) and Libby Clegg (T12 100m/200m) – they’re very young and on paper look like they might only just make the finals.
"But when you are 16 and 17 years old you don’t fear anybody, so they are the ones who could do very well.”
Crates thinks the Games will also to help to break down some barriers in people’s understanding of what the Paralympics is all about.
He said: “Because of the success of the London 2012 Games more people will tune into the Paralympics, which is quite exciting because more people will get to see what is achievable for athletes with disabilities.
“Hopefully people will see that they are professional athletes first and foremost and capable of great sporting achievements.”