PARALYMPIC LEGEND INSPIRES MARATHON EFFORT

10 Apr 2008

Paralympic legend Chris Hallam will be heading to the London Marathon this weekend but the flamboyant speedster will not be taking to the route through the capital – his eyes will be on young protegé Dan Lucker.

The Abergavenny 15-year-old – who is coached and mentored by Hallam – is going for gold in the Adidas Mini Wheelchair Marathon on Sunday. And his fledgling career is certainly in good hands.

Hallam, a former World Champion, has twice won the London Marathon. It was his victory in 1985 which captured the attention of a young Tanni Grey Thompson who was then inspired to take up the sport.

Lucker – who is currently ranked the world’s fastest under 16 wheelchair racer over 200m and 400m – has spina bifida and is one of Britain’s brightest sporting prospects for the London 2012 Paralympics.

His mother Karen explains, "His aim is to succeed at the very highest levels in sport. He’s extremely focussed and London 2012 is the ultimate goal. This year, he’s competing at around 16 events this year – the biggest is the Junior World Championships in New Jersey in July."

"His biggest rival this weekend will be Micky Bushell – an English athlete who is almost three years his senior but Dan’s been training so hard for this –he wants it badly," she adds.

Lucker is supported by the Disability Sport Wales Academy which nurtures and cultivates young talent. Although he looks set for a good finish on Sunday, he is under no illusions that the three mile course is going to be easy:

"It’s going to be a hard race but I’ve put a lot of time and effort into it so I’m feeling confident. Chris has given me some really good advice and he’s told me to pace it. I do get a bit nervous but he always helps me to focus."

And Hallam is not the only hero to offer advice. Lucker has also raced alongside Tanni Grey Thompson who always follows his career with keen interest.