Tokyo Paralympics: The Dacorum athletes going for gold and when they are competing
Potten End's Martin Rooke and Hemel Hempstead's Jess Stretton will be competing in Tokyo
The Great Britain team for the Tokyo Paralympics will feature more than 220 athletes competing across 19 sports.
After a delay of a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, a mix of experienced campaigners and some exciting newcomers will take to the start line to represent their country on the big stage.
The 16th Summer Paralympics will be the second time the Games have been hosted by the Japanese capital – 1964 the other occasion.
There will be 537 events from 22 sports contested, with badminton and taekwondo the new additions to the programme.
Martin Rooke (Badminton)
Competing in one of the new additions to the programme is Potten End's Martin Rooke, who is part of ParalympicsGB’s first-ever Para badminton squad.
Ranked third in the world, Rooke has claimed a multitude of international titles over the last decade including four European gold medals in each of the men’s singles and doubles events.
The 48-year-old will take part in the men’s WH2 class.
He said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic that I will be part of the first-ever badminton Paralympic squad going to Tokyo 2020. It’s extremely overwhelming.
“The fact that all four players on the GB squad have booked their places on the plane for Tokyo is a testament to our team.
“We have an amazing group of players, coaches and backroom staff.
“I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their time, effort and help, but most of all my partner Ruth who is the catalyst for everything I do.”
The badminton competition is due to start on September 1.
Hemel Hempstead's Jess Stretton won gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in the Women’s Individual Compound W1 at just 16-years-old - the youngest archer at the Games.
She also claimed gold in the mixed W1 event alongside John Walker and Jo Frith. The following year she was made an MBE for her services to archery.
Since Rio, Stretton has changed category – she now competes in the Compound Open and claimed individual silver in the 2019 World Para Championships in the Netherlands, setting a new world record in the process.
The 21-year-old also won bronze at the World Youth Championships the same year.
While the talented athlete heads to Tokyo to hopefully win again in a new category, she feels no added pressure.
She said: "I've just turned 21, I've been an archer for eight years and have loved it from that first arrow.
“Everyone’s adapted really well to training at home and staying positive. The squad are so close, we all support each other in working towards Japan.”
Jess, who is hoping for gold at the games, added: "Training is going well at the minute, we have been able to train for quite a few months.
"It's going well, everyone's training hard and getting hyped up and gearing up, ready to go, and getting competition ready.
"Preparation has been mostly the same, repetition shooting and competition drills, things like that. The only thing that has been really different was that last year, everything was put on hold.
"We just had to do what we could, gym programmes and workout at home to keep fit.
"I'm really excited about Tokyo, I'm an anime fan, so for me to be able to go to Japan and be there, where anime was created, will be really cool.
"I'm also looking forward to going out there and seeing the culture.
"It was difficult last year, with lockdown it was hard to keep the motivation going, and all the uncertainty made it difficult.
"I'm really glad that the games have been rescheduled for this year, I think it gives us all something to work towards.
"There's loads of protocols in place to keep everyone involved safe and I'm really looking forward to it."
The archery competitions will start on August 27.
The team eclipsed that performance at Rio 2016 winning an outstanding 147 medals including 64 golds to finish second in the overall medal table.
The rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be staged from August 24, to September 5.