Surrey CometEpsom's sailing star wins Paralympic bronze (From Surrey Comet)

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Rickham sails onto the Paralympic podium

Surrey Comet: Bronze heroes: Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell in action in the London 2012 Paralympics Bronze heroes: Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell in action in the London 2012 Paralympics

Epsom sailor Alexandra Rickham is a Paralympian bronze medallist after the final day of racing in the two-person keelboat Skud class was abandoned.

Rickham, and sailing partner Niki Birrell, went into the last day in third place and with a possible shout of winning silver, but the lack of wind at Portland Harbour in Weymouth put paid to that aspiration.

Despite their disappointment on the final day, Rickham, a tetraplegic athlete, and Birrell, who has cerebral palsy, are just pleased to have a medal round their necks.

The pair are four-times world champions and were favourites going into this Paralympics, but after finishing fifth in the Beijing Games, a Paralympic medal had so far eluded them.

Rickham said: “Clearly I am going to be a bit disappointed and gutted by how things have gone this week.

"But I didn’t want to go back to London to see the rest of the ParalympicsGB team without a medal as last time we went back to Beijing from Qingdao as one of the only ones without a medal because the team did so well.

“We’ve ticked that box. It’s nice to just get a medal for Paralympic sailing in Britain because the fact is that we haven’t done the job for the last few Games so we’re just proud to be part of that contingent that has managed to break the duck.”

Rickham, who celebrates her 31st birthday on Tuesday, and 26-year-old Birrell have both been based around the south coast for many years but they both enjoyed enormous support from around the world during the Games.

Rickham’s parents Elethia and David flew over from their home in Jamaica to support their daughter in Weymouth.

She said: “The support has been amazing from our friends and family and we know lots of people are out there right now cheering for us. Our support has been unbelievable.”

 

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