Alexander Rickham and Niki Birrell are all set to compete in the two-person SKUD Paralympic at the Rio Paralympics. The team won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Games and wants to upgrade it at the Rio Paralympics. They are clear favorites to end up with a podium finish as they have won all the four World titles held between Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
This will be the third straight Paralympics that Rickham and Birell will be taking part in. They are in pretty good form at the moment and have 5 World titles to show off in their trophy cabinet. Rickham said that the passion to make it big at 2016 Rio is more as they were not able to make it big at the 2012 home games.
Birrell, born with cerebral palsy, said that they did not aim to win a bronze medal in London and this is not what they wanted to achieve – they had only picked up a love of sailing by chance on a Split Bareboat Yacht Charter. They have won every single gold medal on offer other than the one at the Paralympics and this is what they will be striving for in Rio, when the sailing kick starts on 12 September. Birrell was pretty upset to be standing on the third step of the podium in London, but seeing a medal around your neck makes you feel happy and proud.
Birrell and Rickham have teamed up together since 2007 and Rio Paralympics will be the last time big event that these two will be taking part as a pair. This is why they have a heightened focus to claim at least a silver spot in the Rio podium. With new teams showing up and winning titles, the task is cut out for the British team of Rickham and Birrell.
The Rio SKUD 18 class will be held as 11 race series with 2 races every day from September 12 to 16 with the final race on September 17.