Paralympic sailing champion 'sad to see' sport dropped from 2020 Games
Redhill Paralympic champion Helena Lucas remains deeply saddened by the fact her sport won’t appear at the 2020 Games in Tokyo and that her legacy is in jeopardy.
The Surrey star won sailing gold at London 2012 and then bronze at Rio 2016, but the sport was dropped from the Paralympic programme for next year’s showpiece in Japan.
With an appeal of the decision by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) falling on deaf ears, Lucas is saddened British athletes won’t get the chance to walk in her footsteps.
“Rio was always going to be my last Paralympics but it's so sad to see it dropped from the programme,” said Lucas.
“World Sailing are trying to get it reinstated, but it hasn't happened yet and the work is still going on to the background.
"I feel incredibly sorry for the athletes who are still on the programme; they don't have the opportunity to have the dream that I did, of winning Paralympic gold"
Lucas was speaking at the Olympic Park in Stratford, where she joined 25 past and present British athletes to mark the 25-year anniversary of the National Lottery.
Since the National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994, more than £40 billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage, culture, film, charity and community, with more than 4,500 elite athletes receiving grants enabling them to access the best coaching, facilities and support staff in the world.
Before funding began for elite sport, Great Britain were ranked 36th in the medal table at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, but at Rio 2016 – after almost two decades of funding – Team GB finished second.
Lucas says that at a difficult time for her sport, Lottery Funding has been vital and will continue to fuel hope of a future for disability sailing.
"For sailing, it absolutely transformed our sport after 1997,” she said.
"I was one of the first few athletes to get on the Lottery Funding. We went from two silvers in Atlanta to three golds and two silvers in Sydney.
"It meant we could be full-time athletes and stop relying on having a sympathetic boss to give you time off to campaign. It was really hard for us to compete at the top level.
"I think the results speak for themselves really. For the youngsters to know you can have a career in the sport you love, it's really important."
Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has had on your community over the past 25 years by visiting www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the 25th hashtag: #NationalLottery25