Lakenheath: US Paralympians prepare at base
MORE than 50 US Paralympic hopefuls have been making final preparations at RAF Lakenheath.
The base has provided the athletes with all the need to success during their stay from August 18 to Saturday, including training facilities and access to accommodation, as well as the opportunity to engage one-on-one with military families through a sponsor programme.
Cathy Sellers, US Paralympic Track and Field Team high performance director, said: “The support has been phenomenal. We can’t ask for anything better.”
The Liberty Wing was making preparations for the team before they arrived.
John Enterman, the RAF Lakenheath fitness and sports manager, said: “We repaired and cleaned the track for them, ensured the long jump and triple jump runways were good to go and put up netting for the discus and shot put.”
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Now that training is under way, 10 to 15 volunteers attend the morning and afternoon training sessions to set out water, sports drinks and fruit as well as prepare ice packs and anything else the team needs.
Each athlete is sponsored by a military family, who have shown them around base, the local community and just help them to feel at home.
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“Anything we can do to help them achieve their personal best is what we are here for,” Mr Enterman said.
Ms Sellers said: “It [the training and support here] makes the difference in a lot of medals.”
Not only does it allow the athletes to make final preparations, but also helps them get over jet lag, adjust to the time difference and start training at the same time of day as the competition, she said.
The team, which has 11 world-record holders in 15 different events, has set their goals for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Ms Sellers said: “Our team goal is 30 medals and one sweep [all the medals in a category].”
She added: “I keep telling them [the team] I like to under promise and over deliver. I will take the 30 first. We will get greedy later.”
Meanwhile, in Bury St Edmunds the Paralympic flame will arrive at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre in Beetons Way on Sunday as part of the Bury St Edmunds Sports Disability Event. People can have pictures taken of themselves with the flame between 3pm and 4pm.
The flame will then move to Moyse’s Hall Museum in Cornhill in the town where it will burn on a special stand in the Great Hall, at the heart of the Suffolk Lap of Honour exhibition. It will stay there until Tuesday, when it joins the other flames at their birthplace at Stoke Mandeville Hospital before a 24-hour relay takes it to the Paralympic Games starting in London on Wednesday.