Calderdale’s athletes back on home soil after Rio success

Great Britain's Stephen Bate arrives back at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Great Britain's Stephen Bate arrives back at Heathrow Airport, London. Steve Parsons/PA Wire

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Their incredible efforts helped the nation achieve its most successful Paralympic Games in nearly three decades.

And crowds of friends, family and supporters of ParalympicsGB’s golden squad gave them a heroes’ welcome as they touched down on home soil from Rio yesterday.

Among the champions who landed at Heathrow Airport were Calderdale’s own Paralympic athletes, including Hannah Cockroft and Steve Bate who were greeted by large crowds before heading home to the region.

Their return comes after the athletes won 147 medals – including 64 golds – making it the highest haul since 1988.

Wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft won her third gold medal at the games last week.

Cycling golds were secured by Mytholmroyd-born Karen Darke as well as by the Calder Valley’s Steve Bate and his pilot, Adam Duggleby, from Leeds.

Great Britain’s most decorated female Paralympic athlete, Dame Sarah Storey, said the atmosphere during the games in Rio was just as electric as it was in London in 2012. Storey won three gold medals in cycling in Rio.

She said: “I don’t think I have smiled this much since my wedding day, it is just amazing.

“The support we have had and the atmosphere here is just incredible.”

Athletes from the region include Kadeena Cox, who won two gold medals at her debut games, in cycling and athletics.

The 25-year-old broke records at the games by becoming the first British athlete to win a gold in two different sports at the same Paralympics.

Her achievements were honoured by organisers as, just two years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she was chosen to be the nation’s flag bearer for the closing ceremony at the Maracana Stadium.

Ms Cox said: “There’s been so many amazing performances and so many people have done great things here.”

Sheffield’s Grace Clough won a gold medal in the rowing.

As the athletes landed back in the UK yesterday, The Queen sent her congratulations to the Paralympians in a special message.

She said: “As the 2016 Paralympic Games draw to a close, I offer my warmest congratulations to the athletes of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and indeed to the athletes of all Commonwealth countries, for their many successes in Rio de Janeiro.

“The magnificent performance of ParalympicsGB this year reflects the talent and commitment of the athletes and their support teams.

“I send my good wishes to all those who have contributed to the success of these memorable Games.”

ParalympicsGB won 147 medals in Rio including 64 gold medals, 39 silvers and 44 bronze.

The Paralympic squad emulated the success of the nation’s Olympic squad, who bettered their performance at London 2012 to take home the biggest ever medal haul of 67 medals.

Also among the Yorkshire stars of the Paralympics was Leeds powerlifter Ali Jawad, who bagged a silver medal in weightlifting at his third games.

And triple gold medalist David Stone, from Leeds, won bronze in cycling.

Claire Cashmore, also from the city, secured silver.

The region’s Paralympic and Olympic athletes are now to be celebrated at a homecoming parade in Leeds.

It takes place on September 28 and the athletes will travel around the city centre on an open top bus.

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