SEVEN-A-SIDE footballer Alistair Patrick-Heselton had to settle for silver at his last major tournament on home soil, but he’s convinced that Great Britain are capable of winning gold at the London 2012 Paralympics.
The 29-year-old was part of the Great Britain team that reached the final of the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester earlier this year, and while he found the net, he was unable to prevent a Brazil victory.
Nonetheless, silver in Manchester still represented a marked improvement from Beijing 2008 where Great Britain finished bottom of their group after failing to win a match. And Patrick-Heselton believes the least they should be targeting this summer is bronze.
“We have all been training so hard and the preparation has been excellent,” he said. “We’ve been following our own regimes vigorously and we all seem to have overcome our individual challenges.
“Looking at the World Cup earlier this year, yes we came away with the silver medal but for me I always think it perhaps should have been a gold, and realistically it could have been.
“There are other good nations out there but sometimes we can be our own opposition and all the preparation we have had is to try and iron out those mistakes, and I’m very confident.
“To be realistic, a medal is within our grasp and if we perform well on the given days don’t be too surprised if we do exceed expectations.”
Kicking off on Saturday, September 1 at the Riverbank Arena, the first match of the seven-a-side football tournament will see Beijing 2008 silver medallists Russia take on Argentina. The other two teams in Group A are Iran and Holland.
On the same day, current Paralympic champions Ukraine play USA and Great Britain start their campaign against old rivals Brazil in Group B.
The tournament features eight teams, with the two groups of four playing in a round-robin format. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the semi-finals, with the winners going head-to-head for gold.
And Patrick-Heselton, who was signed to Queens Park Rangers aged 17 before playing on loan at Oldham Athletic, believes Great Britain’s rivals would be making a mistake if they judged them on their Paralympic World Cup performances.
He added: “We have progressed so much in such a short space of time that our opponents might not anticipate the improvements we have made. There could be a lot of shocked faces.
“The jury may still be out on my best position but I will play wherever the team needs me to. I’m just focused on going for gold and I will do whatever it takes.”
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