ST Annes wheelchair ace Shelly Woods is in a state of mounting excitement after being chosen to compete for Great Britain in four events at this summer’s Paralympics in London.
The official squad announcement for the Games, now just 49 days away, includes the name of Woods in the 800m, 1500m, 5,000m and marathon, making her one of the busiest athletes at London 2012.
The 26-year-old is already the proud possessor of a silver and a bronze medal from the Beijing Paralympics four years ago.
Victory in any of the four disciplines would crown her as the golden girl of the Games, but Woods is making no rash predictions.
She told The Gazette: “It is fantastic news and I am really proud to be selected. It makes all the hard work that I have put in worthwhile.
“I would say my best chances of a medal are in the 5,000 metres and the marathon, and I can only do my best to do the GB squad proud.”
As usual, Woods’ preparation has been very thorough. She has earmarked the Americans as her strongest rivals in London, and with that in mind journeyed to Indianapolis to take part in the United States championships last month.
Her schedule has revolved around peaking for the Paralympics, so when she recorded her second-fastest 1,500m time ever in the US she was well pleased.
Woods also clocked a fast time in the 5,000, and has already shown her prowess over 26 miles this year with her dominant win in the London Marathon (below).
She added: “All the preparations have gone well, and now all I have to do is make sure I stay injury-free before the Games.
“This is something I have been working for a long time, even before I knew the Games would be coming to London.”
Woods will join the rest of the GB squad at a camp in Portugal next month but has one regret – she will miss the Paralympic opening ceremony.
Woods explained: “The rule is that if you are competing within three days of the opening ceremony you are not allowed to take part in it.
“It was the same in Beijing, which I didn’t really mind, but it is different when it is the Paralympics in your own country.
“The good thing about the Games being over here is that your family can come and watch you, so there is a good chance my parents, my brothers and my husband can all come.”
The British Paralympic Association have named a blend of youth and experience in the athletics squad. Some 28 athletes will make their Paralympics debut in London, alongside eight medallists from Beijing, including double gold winner David Weir.
UK Athletics head coach Peter Eriksson said: “We’ve made a lot of changes since Beijing, where we finished 18th.
“We had a hugely successful World Championships in January 2011, when we finished third.
“The strength and depth of the squad has improved.”