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Bristolian Duo To Compete At Paralympics

Two Bristol-born athletes will compete at the Rio Paralympics, which begin next Wednesday (September 7th).

James Blackwell is part of the 14-man Team GB seven-a-side football squad, while four-time Paralympian Karen Butler is in the shooting team.

Thirty-year-old Blackwell grew up in Hawkesbury Upton and was born with cerebral palsy, a lesion on the brain that affects the left hand side of his body. 

He had a spell out of the game after breaking his neck in August 2015 and plays as a right-back or winger in the Gloucestershire County League for Kingswood.

Blackwell used to hide his disability but saw it in a different light after seeing fellow England and Team GB team-mate Ibs Diallo, who he had played against for Kingswood, feature at London 2012.

Blackwell plays for England as a Class 7 and it is that middle-severity disability group which makes up at least five of the seven players on the field at any time for an international CP team. 

Butler first started shooting in 1984 when she was introduced to the sport while working towards her gold Duke of Edinburgh award.

Five years later, she went to a ‘come and try’ session with the Girl Guide association and was selected for the 1991 European Championships in Belgium.

Butler made her Paralympic debut in Barcelona in 1992, just 18 months after picking up an air rifle.

She is the most experienced athlete in Team GB’s shooting team after appearing at Atlanta and Sydney, but was ruled out of Beijing due to injury.

The 49-year-old returned to Paralympic competition when she was selected as part of the 12-strong shooting team that competed at London 2012 after she won a quota place at the 2011 IPC Shooting World Cup in Fort Benning, USA. 

Following her inclusion in the Team GB shooting squad, she said: “I’ve had my sights set on Rio from the moment I finished competing at London 2012, so I couldn’t be happier to know I’ve got my place booked on the plane for Rio. The support I’ve had back at home has been incredible and it makes all the difference, I hope I can go out there and make everyone proud.”

Everyone at Bristol Sport would like to wish the duo the best of luck in Rio.

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