Serial gold medal-winning equestrian rider Lee Pearson has revealed his pride at being nominated as Great Britain’s flagbearer for Wednesday's opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
The 42-year-old is a 10-time Paralympic champion after claiming triple gold at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games, while at London 2012 he won team gold as well as a silver and bronze.
“I am so proud and honoured to be the flagbearer for a talented, strong and passionate group of British athletes,” said Pearson, who was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, which means his limbs were twisted with little muscle.
“Being a diverse character myself has meant that being voted by the athletes themselves has made this moment even more special.
“I genuinely feel that we are among the best prepared and supported athletes at the Paralympic Games and I can’t wait to lead my fellow team-mates from ParalympicsGB into the stadium.”
Defending champion Jonnie Peacock, meanwhile, has denied he is favourite to retain his crown and win the T44 100m despite entering the Games ranked No1 in the world. The 23-year-old has pointed to American Jarryd Wallace as the frontrunner.
Peacock has been hampered with injury over the past 18 months, which forced him to miss the 2015 World Championships in Doha, although he returned to form in July by posting the world’s best time this year – 10.68 seconds.
“In my eyes he [Wallace] is the one to beat,” said Peacock. “I went to London 2012 as clear fastest. It’s a very different pressure this time, but I’m more relaxed.”
Prince Harry has made a personal donation to the #FillTheSeats initiative; a campaign which aims to buy 10,000 tickets for Brazilian children to watch the Paralympics.
The project was a response to fears over there being empty seats at the Games. Organisers confirmed last month that just 12 per cent of available tickets had been told. On Sunday, the International Paralympic Committee said that 1.5 million from a total of 2.5m had been sold.