The future of Paralympic star Gabi Down is in jeopardy after her national funding was withdrawn because wheelchair fencing was not deemed to be a ‘worthy’ enough sport.
Oakgrove pupil Gabi, who is 15, has now launched a go-it-alone bid to raise the £30,000 she needs to take her to Rio 2016.in
She has appealed for Milton Keynes business to help and has offered to wear their logos and attend corporate events in return.
“I’ll do anything - I just want to represent my country at Rio,” she said.
Gabi, born with skeletal dysplasia, reached seventh place with her team at the London 2012 Paralympics. She is currently ranked 16th in there world in foil fencing and 15th in epee.
She is national champion in foil and sabre and second nationally in epee.
But her funders UK Sport has now withdrawn all cash for Gabi and her Olympic team.
“They changed their criteria and decided wheelchair fencing was not enough of a medal-winning sport. Yet I know I am capable of winning medals for Great Britain,” said Gabi.
The £30,000 would pay for the Bletchley girl to travel as far afield as Hong Kong and Canada for “essential” qualifying competitions.
“It would also pay for the coaching I need and , perhaps most important, a new sports wheelchair. Mine is literally falling apart but a new one costs up to £3,000,” she said.
“I obviously don’t expect anyone to pay out all this money but what would be greatly appreciated is some support from as many people as possible.”
Gabi can be contacted through her website www.gabidown.co.uk.