With over 30 major international sporting events coming to the UK over the next 15 months and up to 95 Rio qualification places available, Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes explain why the home crowd has such an important role to play.
Multiple Paralympic swimming champion Ellie Simmonds: “I’m so excited about the home World Championships [in Glasgow]. Home support was so important during the London 2012 Paralympics and I really love it when the crowd cheer us on. I hope that we get big audiences so we can show them how brilliant our sport is.
“Glasgow will be my fourth World Championships and I think it will be really special. I love competing at the top level. Racing fast is the best part of my sport but this will be made even better with a great crowd getting behind the team.”
Olympic gymnastics bronze medallist Sam Oldham: “When you’re competing in a tough competition having trained for months to battle against the best, the home crowd can give you an extra percent, they can help make the difference.”
Olympic taekwondo champion Jade Jones: “London 2012 really helped raise the profile of taekwondo and the Grand Prix series is another brilliant way to showcase the sport. I always love fighting in front of home crowds.
“With the world’s best fighters expected in Manchester, that support will be crucial for me and the rest of the GB Taekwondo squad. Plus it is a great opportunity for a British audience to watch many athletes who will also be competing at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.”
Paralympic boccia silver medallist David Smith: “This is an incredible opportunity on home soil to qualify for Rio. With the benefit of our National Lottery support we have been training hard at Surrey Sports Park and we are prepared to take on the best of Europe to win those slots.”
Olympic hockey bronze medallist Kate Richardson-Walsh: “When I think of competing in front of a home crowd, I think of the London Olympic Games, before each game the crowd would count down from ten to one and you could do nothing but smile, because the support and the noise was just so amazing.
“The legacy venue is great, you have to walk through the Olympic Park to get there so the buzz you get is incredible. The capacity has been increased, so the noise is going to be even louder, it will be like a cauldron and I can’t wait.”
European diving silver medallist Sarah Barrow: "There’s always excitement and pressure around competing in front of a home crowd, but it gives us the chance to turn that pressure into something positive."
Paralympic wheelchair tennis silver medallist Andy Lapthorne: “I’m a West Ham fan so to have the Masters in the Olympic Park, and about five minutes away from my Dad’s house, it’s massive for me.
“It means all my friends and family can come and watch, so it’s a big deal for me personally, but it’s also huge for the sport. I think London showed what this country can do for disability sport, so hopefully we can go there and put on a good show.”
Dina Asher-Smith, silver medallist at the European Indoor Athletics Championships: “There’s no better feeling than racing in front of a home crowd and hearing their cheers can really inspire you. I'm so excited to compete in the UK this year and hopefully use that support to give some strong performances and put myself in the best possible position ahead of Rio next summer.”
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