Harrogate MP Phil Willis is backing wheelchair athlete Jason Richards' attempt to successfully defend his track titles at next month’s HSA British National Wheelchair Athletics Championships at Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire (4/5th October 2003).
32 year old Jason, who is also an Ambassador for MAGIC (Mobility and General Information Centre), Ford’s free telephone information service for disabled people and mature drivers, won the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m events in the T53 classification at last year’s event.
The Liberal Democrat MP said: "I have been following Jason’s career with great interest ever since I saw an article about his amazing performance on the track. I just wanted to wish him luck and tell him how proud we all are of everything he has achieved to date."
It has been a year of highs and lows for Jason. In April he picked up npower’s Disabled Sportsman of the Year award. But in August 2003 his good friend Oliver Mills was tragically killed in a motorbike accident. He said: "As defending champion, there is a lot of pressure on me to do well. Thankfully, my training has peaked at just the right time. The help I have received from my sponsors Ford MAGIC and my coach and mentor Simon Bassett has also been invaluable.
"Even though it would be great to successfully defend each and every one of my titles, my main focus is still to improve my times to qualify for the British Team to go to the Olympics in Athens next year."
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