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ParalympicsGB Team Launch hailed as ‘fantastic celebration’ by British athletes

on 24-01-2014 09:31

World-class winter Paralympians have been celebrating their selection to represent ParalympicsGB at Sochi 2014 with a two-day team celebration event in Glasgow.

The Deloitte ParalympicsGB Team Launch brought together all of the 12 selected athletes and three competition partners who will compete in Sochi in March, to ensure all final administrative processes were complete and to celebrate their selection with a gala dinner before the head off to their final preparation camps.

Held over two days in the heart of Glasgow, the Deloitte ParalympicsGB Team Launch is the first time that all selected athletes and staff members who will be part of the accredited British delegation to Russia gather in one place to celebrate their selection – and, because of training and preparation commitments, is also the only time that the delegation comes together before the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympic Games.

During the event, ParalympicsGB announced the selection of the seven athletes and three competition partners who will compete in Alpine Skiing at the XI Paralympic Winter Games. They joined five Wheelchair Curling athletes who were selected last year and who regularly use Glasgow training facilities for their camps.

Skier Kelly Gallagher (Bangor, Northern Ireland) will represent ParalympicsGB for the second time in Sochi after making her debut at Vancouver 2010. She said:

I couldn’t be more excited about Sochi now that we have celebrated our selection at Team Launch.

"We have all been working so hard and remained so focussed on our individual performances that I can’t believe this is finally happening. Now that we have had a chance to really feel like one team it will make me train and focus even more in the next few crucial weeks."

“It has been a fantastic moment in time for all us athletes”, said Wheelchair Curling skip Aileen Neilson (Strathaven). “We have spent the last three and half years working towards the Paralympic Games but you are training so much that you never really get the chance to stop and take in how fantastic it is to be able to represent your country at the biggest competetion in the world. The Team Launch is such a wonderful event as it gives us a chance to celebrate, briefly, our journey so far. It is an honour to be here with my fellow Paralympians and to be pulling on our ParalympicsGB shirts for the first time."

The event got underway on Thursday morning with team kitting-out, where the athletes and staff all received their adidas competition and village wear. There were also administrative processes, such as final medicals, workshops and media interviews at the team hotel, and Thursday evening concluded with a fantastic inspirational dinner at the City Chambers, hosted by the Lord Provost.

Penny Briscoe, Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB, said: “Team Launch is one of the few opportunities we have to celebrate the achievements of all our selected athletes. Behind the scenes, we have been working incredibly hard to ensure that everything is in place for these athletes as they prepare for Sochi and that the framework is there to support them as they compete at the very pinnacle of elite sport. It is with immense pride that I have been able to present this group of athletes for the very first time, and I think this event has been the perfect way to celebrate their selection and to wish them all well for the competition ahead.”

“I’d like to take the opportunity to thank our event partner, Deloitte, for all their support and also to thank the Lord Provost and the city of Glasgow for such fantastic hospitality over the last few days.”

The event was supported by long-term supporter and partner of the British Paralympic Association, Deloitte, and employees from the firm’s Scottish offices volunteered at the event.

“We are extremely proud to be supporting the Team Launch,” said Simon Wakefield, partner at Deloitte. “As ongoing supporters of the British Paralympic Association we know how important it is for the athletes to be prepared for the Games. This will be the fourth Games for which Deloitte will be a proud partner of the BPA and we wish all the athletes and staff every success in Sochi.”

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games begin on March 7, 2014.

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