– Rosie Kelly contributed to this report.
There was a warm welcome for Egyptian Paralympians on Monday, August 20th at the first of three meet & greet sessions being held in Lincolnshire.Locals were invited to watch the athletes train at the University of Lincoln’s Sports Centre and to take part in the table-tennis and sitting volleyball.
Children, as well as adults, were invited to join in and one enthusiastic participant was five year-old Connor, from Binbrook. At the event with his grandparents, Connor joined in with the sitting volleyball.
He said: “It was really fun but I couldn’t hit it hard enough to go over the net!”
The Egyptian Paralympic table-tennis, sitting volleyball, athletics and powerlifting athletes are spending a week at a training camp in Lincolnshire. 40 athletes and 16 support staff are preparing for next week’s Paralympic Games in three venues across the county.
Table-tennis coach, Ramy Jesser said the team had high hopes for an impressive medal haul at the Games. He said: “We’ve been really looking forward to coming to Lincoln and to coming to London 2012 for a long time.”
Jesser was also full of praise for the support that the Egyptian team has received in Lincoln. He said: “It’s a lovely place, lovely people. Everyone has been very kind and helpful to us.”
Over 50 local volunteers have been on hand to lend help and support to the Paralympic hopefuls in the form of physiotherapy, translation and driving.
Businesses have also lent their support, donating snacks & bottled water, physiotheraphy equipment and lifting platforms for the powerlifters to use for practise.
An amputee since 2006, Keith Hill is the head coach at the Lincoln Sitting Volleyball club. He set up the club after playing the sport at the prestigious Stoke Mandeville hospital. When he realised there was nowhere to play in Lincoln, he took a qualification in coaching and set one up himself.
He said: “To be in Lincoln and to have another country’s national team training here, it’s really quite inspiring.
“I represented Great Britain in the Europeans in 2009 so it wasn’t a surprise to see how good they were, but it’s certainly an inspiration to see how it all pulls together.”
Hill continued: “I’m certainly looking forward to the Paralympics. It’s more akin to what I do than the Olympics was for me. I’ve got tickets to watch the sitting volleyball at the Excel Arena so I’m hoping Great Britain will still be in it. If not, I’ll be rooting for Egypt!”Tweet