Sep 01 2012

Updated – Part 4: Paralympics 2012 North East Hopefuls

London Paralympic Games Starts on Wednesday 29th August 2012!

We take a look at Our North East Paralympians who have nothing but Gold in their sights!


Making their debut are…

Jade Jones, 16, Middlesbrough – 400m, 800m, 1500m

It all started for Jade at a school sports day when she met Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson who asked her to try a racing chair!

A few weeks later, Jade went to a training session with the Paralympian and has worked with her to develop her Athletics career ever since. She has now been competing for over three years and cites Tanni Grey-Thompson and Chantal Petitclerc as her sporting inspirations.

Amongst Jade’s career highlights is her performance at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she finished in 5th place in the T54 200m.

Jade who was born with her femur missing is still studying and hopes to have a future career in law.

This is Jades first paralympics, good luck!!!

Jade Jone, only 16, is making her paralympic debut.

Gemma Collis, 19, based in Durham – Fencer

Gemma has always been very athletic and will make her Paralympic debut at London 2012. In July 2008 she was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. RSD is a progressive nervous system disease that affects the functioning of the nerves in her right leg. To continue her sporting interests, Gemma began coaching, officiating and volunteering at sports events, and thus discovered more about disability sport.

Gemma began playing Wheelchair Basketball at first in 2010 and competes for Newcastle Eagles and West Coast Tornadoes. Then shortly after starting her undergraduate degree in Law at Durham University, Gemma tried Wheelchair Fencing. She loved it and her love for the sport grows!

Gemma recently represented Great Britain at the 2012 Malchow Wheelchair Fencing World Cup.

Good luck Gemma!!!

Gemma Collis is looking forward to competing in the fencing.

Dan English, 21, Sunderland – Five-a-side football

Dan, 21, from Sunderland will playing in the Team GB 5-a-side football team. He will play in defence or on the wing. The Sunderland afc fan has been training in Bath and has a BTEC National Diploma in sports performance and excellence. Dan is visually impaired.

Dan said “Training has been going well and all the boys are keen to get started…It’s been four years coming and I am really looking forward to it”.

Best of luck Dan!!!

Dan Engllish will compete in the 5-a-side football for the visually impaired

Lee Brunton, 18, North Shields – Five-a-side football

Lee began to get involved with Football 5-a-side after he started to lose his sight when he was about 12 years old. Lee developed his skills playing in a local pan-disability league. He made his international debut at the 2011 IBSA World Games, in Antalya, Turkey, playing against China.

Lee said “The thought of competing at London 2012 brings mixed emotions… you have to focus on your performance. It’s going to be very competitive.”

Lee is studying Sports and Recreation at the RNC in Hereford and he hopes to be a fitness instructor when he qualifies, he also supports Newcastle United FC.

Good luck Lee!!!

Lee Brunton and his mother Carol

A summary of the 5-a-side football rules:

  • The game uses a special ball with a bell inside that makes a noise as it moves to guide the players.
  • Matches are played between two teams, each with four athletes who have a B1 level of visual impairment and one goalkeeper who can be sighted or visually impaired (plus five substitutes). Each team also has a guide behind the opponent’s goal to direct the players when they shoot.
  • There is also no off-side rule or throw ins.
  • Matches are played over two halves of 25 minutes each, plus 10 minutes for half-time. In the event of a draw, the match may go to penalties.
  • Before a tackle, players must shout the word ‘voy’ so that the person they are attempting to tackle is aware. This is designed to prevent injuries wherever possible.

Josef Craig, 15, South Tyneside – Swimming

Josef loved being in the swimming pool at a young age and was introduced to Swimming when he was nine years old. Josef, who has cerebral palsy will competing for ParalympicsGB for the first time in London, competing in the 100m Freestyle (S7) / 50m Freestyle (S7) and 400m Freestyle (S7).

Josef has been Swimming competitively for four years and trains with South Tyneside Swimming Club. The 400m Freestyle is his favourite competition. His proudest achievement to date was setting the British record in the 1500m Freestyle (S7) at the City of Sheffield Premier Meet 2011. He also surpassed the world record time competing in the 800m Freestyle in Berlin, Germany.

Good luck Josef!!!

Josef Craig will be competing in the swimming

Dean Miller, 24, Cumbria – 1500m

Dean started running at the age of just 12 with his local Athletics club, Barrow and Furness SAC.

He was encouraged by his father to develop his talent. Dean then went on to represent his county in Cross Country events in non-disabled competition and has been competing for over 10 years. Career highlights include reaching 8th place in the final at the 2006 IPC Athletics World Championships in Assen, the Netherlands at just 17 years old. He will compete in the T37 1500m event.

In 2011, Dean, who has cerebal palsy, graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Sport, PE and Coaching Sciences from the University of Birmingham. He is a big Football fan, supporting both Liverpool FC and his local team Barrow AFC.

Best of luck Dean!!!

Runner – Dean Miller

Susie Rodgers, 29, Stockon-on-Tees – Swimming

Susie exploded onto the international Swimming scene just one year ago in 2011, winning five gold medals and one silver at the 2011 IPC European Championships in Berlin. London will be her first Paralympic Games.

Susie was born with her impairment (deformed arm and leg) and first learned to swim when she lived in Egypt as a child. She is set to compete in 100m Backstroke (S7) / 50m Butterfly (S7) / 100m Freestyle (S7) / 50m Freestyle (S7) and 400m Freestyle (S7).

Susie graduated with a BA (Hons) in Modern Languages from the University of Newcastle and speaks French, German, Spanish, beginners Catalan and Italian! At the moment Susie works at the British Council.

Best of luck Susie!!!

Susie Rodgers hope to be a hit in the pool

James O’Shea, 34, Newcastle – 100m Breast stroke

A newcomer to Swimming, James was encouraged to start training seriously in the sport by Olympic swimmer Mark Foster and has been involved in Swimming since 2006. Before this he used to participate in Wheelchair Dance Sport and traveled the world, competing at the 2010 European Championships.

In addition to his sport, James was awarded a BA (Hons) in History and Politics from the University of Central Lancashire in 2001. James will be competing in 100m Breaststroke (SB5).

Good luck James!!!

James O’shea to compete in the pool

Returning are…

John Robertson, 40, Sunderland – Sailing (Sonar)

John has represented ParalympicsGB in Sailing at two Paralympic Games Athens and Beijing, finishing sixth on each occasion. He has high hopes for London with crew Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas. John was disabled as a result of a motorbike accident in 1994.

John said “After two Games of trying, it would be amazing to finally win a Paralympic gold at a home Games. It would be the icing on the cake and pretty special, but we need to keep the focus until then.”

Good luck John, Hannah and Stephen!!!

   3-person keelboat crew: John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas.

Terry Bywater, 29, Middlesbrough – Basketball

Terry is one the most experienced players in the men’s Wheelchair Basketball team and London 2012 will be his fourth Paralympic Games. Terry has already won a bronze from Beijing in 2008 and has high hopes for London  2012.

Terry first started playing Wheelchair Basketball aged 13 at an open day in Middlesbrough with the Teeside Lions. He soon became a member of the GB under-23 team and made his Paralympic debut at the age of 17 at the Sydney Paralympic Games. He feels his greatest moment in the sport was the team’s bronze medal winning performance at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.

Terry currently plays with the Sheffield Steelers and is classified as a 4.5 player.

Get those 3’s in Terry, good luck!!!

Terry Bywater has his sights on another medal!

Hazel Robson, 32, Sunderland – 100m and 200m

Hazel is one of great stars of the Paralympics and has competed at an international level in Athletics since he 1998 World Championships in Birmingham, UK, where she won a 400m silver medal in the T36 400m and a bronze in the T36 100m.

Hazel who has cerebral palsy, cites her greatest evert sporting moment as the gold medal that she won when making her Paralympic debut in 2000 in Sydney. 4 years later in Athens she was a double silver medallist and she produced another successful performance to win bronze in both the T36 100m and 200m events in Beijing.

Good luck Hazel!!!

    Hazel Robson – One of the most successful north east athletes.

Stephen Miller, 32, Cramlington –  Club and discus

Stephen is one of our highest hopes for a medal at the 2012 games. This will be Stephen’s 5th games, previously he has won gold  in Atlanta 1996, gold & bronze in Sydney 2000, gold in Athens 2004 and silver Beijing 2008. What a record!

Stephen was born with cerebral palsy which means he has some difficulty with his coordination and  balance. Though this hasn’t stopped him with his sport and gaining a 2.1 honours degree in Business Information Systems from Northumbria University.

He is also a website developer and works part-time in freelance.

Best of luck Stephen!!!

Stephen Miller is hoping for yet another medal!

Please leave your best wishes to the Athletes below…


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  1. Matt Ritson

    I like this summation of young hopefuls. I didn’t previously realise we had so many based in the north east.

    Good luck to everyone concerned – carpe diem!

  2. Donna Petch

    Thanks Matt, lets hope they do well 🙂

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