Gloucestershire teenager Billy Shilton is heading to Rio next month as part of the British Paralympic Association’s 2016 Paralympic Inspiration Programme.
The 17 year old Stonehouse table tennis star, who took bronze at last year’s European Championships and narrowly missed out on qualification for the Paralympic Games, is one of 28 athletes and coaches across 13 Paralympic sports who will travel to Brazil next month where they will experience a multi-sport environment and some of the unique aspects of a Games, including the Athletes’ Village, the media spotlight and mixed zone, and transport systems.
The Programme, which was first launched in London 2012, provides athletes and coaching staff with an experience of several days at a Paralympic Games. It aims to provide developing athletes with knowledge that will prepare them for a future Games experience as a selected athlete, as well as inspire and excite potential future Paralympians in their ambitions.
Athletes were nominated by their National Governing Body based on a number of criteria, including but not limited to being on a development pathway, with an anticipated performance trajectory for the 2018 or 2020 Paralympic Games.
Kate Eddy, Athlete Services Manager at BPA, said: “It is really exciting to be able to launch the Paralympic Inspiration Programme once again. We know that the programme has been really successful in the past and so I look forward to following this Rio cohort on their journeys towards Tokyo. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the organisations who have supported the programme, as without them it would not be possible to run the programmes and to provide these athletes with an experience that will have a tangible impact on their preparations and development over the next Games cycle.”
“I’m very excited,” said Shilton, who will be in Rio for the first six days of the Games. “Having got so close to qualifying for the Paralympics I’m really excited to be going out to Rio and I’m really looking forward to watching my team mates compete and also to get a feel for everything. When I found out I had been selected I was really happy because there are not that many people who have been given the opportunity and I’m the only one selected from table tennis so it is a real honour and I know it will be a fantastic experience.”