High hopes for University’s five Rio Paralympians


The athletic ability of five University of Leeds sports stars will be tested to the limit during the Paralympics, which begin today in Rio de Janiero.

Competing as part of the TeamGB squad is table tennis player and medicine student Kim Daybell, whose first heat is tomorrow, 8 September.

Kim will be used to the level of competition, having previously competed in the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Speaking ahead of the tournament, Kim, 24, said: “I feel the best prepared physically and mentally that I can be going in to Rio.

"The experience of London is going to help massively. I thought I was ready for London but we’ve come a long way since then, particularly off the table. 

“We’ve all got lots of expectations but I just want to go and do myself proud and my country proud. I want to play at the level I know I can play at and, if I do that, I don’t see why I can’t be in among the medals.”

With the support of the University, Kim has taken a year’s break from his studies to train full time for the Paralympics, which he says has given him extra confidence to challenge the top-ranked players in the sport.

Also competing in Rio De Janiero this month are four Leeds alumni:

  • Claire Cashmore, who completed her degree in Linguistics and Phonetics in 2011, and will compete in the 100m breaststroke on 14 September. Claire won a silver medal in her category in London
  • Karen Darke, who also claimed a silver medal in the 2012 Games, will compete in the road hand cycling. She graduated in 1992 with a degree in Chemistry and Geological Sciences
  • Laura Sugar, a Sports and Exercise Science graduate from 2012, will take part in the 200m on 14 September. She is a current silver medallist in the 2016 Muller Anniversary Games.
  • Grace Clough, a rower who will take part in the mixed coxed four rowing on 9 September. Grace graduated from Leeds in 2013 with a degree in Sociology and was the 2014 and 2015 World Champion in her category.

Wishing the athletes success, the University’s Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands said the University was proud they had been selected to represent the UK in the national squad.

Suzanne Glavin, the University’s newly appointed Head of Sport said: “We have a really strong team of Leeds athletes taking part in the Paralympics, so our hopes are high for success.

"All of our athletes have proved how it’s possible to reach the highest levels of their sport whilst working and studying and I wish them the best of luck during the next 10 days."

Ms Glavin, who before coming to Leeds held a senior role at Sport England, added: “I believe sport can impact significantly on an individual’s well-being, character and ability to succeed in life, so I’m sure our five Paralympians will be great role models for all students and graduates.”

More details about all the athletes and the University’s Olympic sportsmen and women, including gold medal winning Alistair Brownlee, can be found here.

Further information:

Picture above is Kim Daybell in training for the Paralympics. 

Journalists should contact Peter Le Riche in the University's press office on 0113 343 2049 | p.leriche@leeds.ac.uk