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ParalympicsGB celebrate 100 days to go until Paris 2024

ParalympicsGB believe British fans can be their ‘secret weapon’ at Paris 2024.

The countdown to the first summer Paralympics ever staged in France is gathering pace with 100 days to go until the Opening Ceremony, a groundbreaking celebration set for the Champs-Elysées.

British fans have bought more tickets for the Olympics than any other nation except the hosts and a bumper contingent is also expected for the Paralympics, with around one million tickets sold thus far.

“The support of our fans means everything,” said ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe. “In some ways, they’re our secret weapon.

“They are part of the system that supports our athletes, and we do a huge amount of work with friends and family on how they can be our super fans. I’m not sure we’ll ever get a repeat of the Jonnie Peacock moment in London 2012, but the Brits will be there, loud, and proud.”

In the absence of fans, ParalympicsGB produced a stunning 124 medals at Tokyo 2020 in 2021, across a record breaking 18 different sports, to finish second in the medal table for the second Games running.

They are among a handful of teams who will get the train – rather than fly – to Paris, one of a host of performance advantages to Britain’s proximity to the French capital.

But Briscoe is guarding against complacency when it comes to a medal bounce, saying, “You could have argued that Tokyo wasn’t going to be a successful Games because there was no atmosphere.

“Once the athletes take to the field of play, they are there to compete and we saw a number of Paralympic and world record performances we didn’t think we’d see.

“Athletes respond to crowds in different ways, but I do think the fans will give them a lift.”

Channel 4 will be showing every event live for the first time and ParalympicsGB’s partnership with TikTok promises to introduce para sport to new audiences.

With increasing attention and scrutiny on the Games, British athletes and support staff will receive more mental health support than ever before. ParalympicsGB facilities will have relaxation lounges and athletes will even be supplied with a journal.

“Physical and mental health is of paramount importance to us,” said Briscoe. “We’ve evolved our strategy from a welfare and wellbeing approach to actually having clinical experts embedded in our environments.”

ParalympicsGB are privately and publicly impressed with the progress made by the organisers and Briscoe, involved in her 11th Paralympic Games, hailed the Village as ‘the most accessible’ in history.

“They’ve freshened things up and daubed the Games with a bit of Parisian flair,” said Briscoe. “We’re looking forward to a different take on an Opening Ceremony, in terms of the ceremonies, presentation, hospitality and culture, we’ve very much been welcomed by our hosts and our experiences have been pretty positive.”

Given the current state of global security, particularly with conflicts ongoing in Palestine and Ukraine, keeping ParalympicsGB athletes safe has unsurprisingly been high on the agenda for Briscoe in her dealings with organisers.

“Clearly, security is something that has been in the headlines and is something that is a concern to us as a team,” said Briscoe. “We note the commitment of the Organising Committee and the French President to ensure a safe and secure Games and we believe they’re doing everything they can to ensure the safety of all involved.

“We saw the Flame arrive in Marseille with significant security and that’s a real positive that shows the commitment of the organisers.

“We’ll have strict policies in place and will be advising athletes of any areas where we perceive there to be risk. In terms of due diligence, we’re doing everything we can and working with the right agencies to ensure our security plans are as robust as they can be.”

The successful staging of Rio 2016 was under threat until the last minute due to financial and organisational issues and with Tokyo blighted by Covid-19, Paris is presenting as a pivotal moment for the Paralympic movement.

“London 2012 felt like a seminal moment in terms of kicking para sport forward,” said Briscoe. “There were challenges in Rio, challenges in Tokyo and I think everyone’s looking forward to a Games that go ahead without those kinds of challenges.

“We’re anticipating more nations participating than ever, which we welcome, and interest in para sport does seem to be continuing to grow. We’re excited about going into battle.”

ParalympicsGB is offering one lucky prize winner plus a guest the chance to win a dream trip to Paris 2024 to see the British athletes in action. To enter visit https://paralympics.org.uk/paris-2024-trip-competiton

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