Paralympic Sailing Squad Announced

Great Britain's Paralympic sailing squad has been announced, representing the first home competitors selected for London 2012.

Skud 18 pair Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell and sonar team John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas will take to the water in Weymouth next summer.

Hopes will be particularly high for Rickham and Birrell to improve on their fifth-placed finish at Beijing 2008, with the pair having won their third successive World Championships gold medal when they secured victory with a day to spare at last month's event at the Olympic venue.

Robertson and his crew were controversially beaten to gold by Dror Cohen's Israeli boat after twice failing with protests to the event organisers, but were victorious in June's Sail for Gold regatta at Weymouth and will also go into the event as a serious medal prospect.

British Paralympic Association performance director Penny Briscoe told Press Association Sport:

''At Paralympics GB we're delighted to be down in Weymouth and be making the announcement of our first team members for London 2012.

''It's just the start of the process, it's going to be our biggest team ever and these are the first five names on the teamsheet. It's a very exciting day, it's fantastic for the athletes, for sailing as a sport and also for Paralympics GB and our move towards London.

''The athletes that have just been selected are extraordinary in terms of their World Championship track record and what's exciting today is the confidence shown by the selectors. It means that these guys have a very clear focus in terms of the run-in to the Games.

''They'll be joined by a further 300 athletes that have all got one thing in mind, to go to London and deliver personal bests and medal-winning performances.

''It is a very exciting day but with a year to go it is the start of the process.''