Britain’s Paralympic Greats – Nyree Kindred

Labour Party

Nyree Kindred, nee Lewis, is one of Britain’s most successful paralympians and will be competing again at this summer’s games as a swimmer.

Nyree took up swimming at the age of 5, after she was taken to a swimming pool by her aunt  and encouraged her to give the sport a go. Nyree quickly developed a taste for the fast-pace competition and was soon taking part in elite level races. She was selected for the national team in 1999.

Nyree has a form of cerebral palsy and therefore competes in the S6 (butterfly, backstroke, freestyle), SM6 (medley) and SB5 (breaststroke) classifications.

Nyree began her fantastic Paralympic career at the 2000 Games in Sydney, where she amazingly won three medals; two silver and a bronze. She enjoyed further success at the 2004 Summer Paralympics, where she won the gold medal in the S6 100 metres backstroke event, in a new Paralympic record time of 1:32.03.

She followed this up with another gold in the 4×50 m medley 20 pts relay, silver medals in both the 100 m breaststroke SB5 and 200 m SM6 individual medley, and a bronze in the 400 m freestyle S6.

Nyree didn’t enjoy the same level of success at the Beijing Paralympic games.  In the 100 metres S6 backstroke she was, surprisingly, beaten into second place by Dutch swimmer Mirjam de Koning-Peper. She later explained her defeat by saying : “My legs were spasming, but to be honest, there are no excuses for that, … I should have gone quicker but it just wasn’t there tonight”.

In addition to this medal winning performance Kindred also reached the finals of the 100 m breaststroke SB5 (finishing 4th), 200 m SM6 individual medley (finishing 6th) and 400 m freestyle S6 (finishing 6th).

Nyree’s husband is fellow British Paralympic- the gold medal winning swimmer Sascha Kindred. Together the pair are known as the ‘golden couple’ of British disability swimming.  They will both be swimming for Britain this summer and I’m sure both will be working hard to bring home the gold for Britain.

Britain’s Paralympic Greats – Sarah Storey

Labour Party

Sarah Joanne Storey, née Bailey has an impressive array of medals to her name in an impressive array of sports.

Sarah (then known as Sarah Bailey) began her paralympic career as a swimmer, winning two golds, three silvers and a bronze in Barcelona in 1992 at 14. She continued swimming in the next three Paralympic Games before switching to cycling in 2005.

At the 2008 Paralympic Games, her fifth, Storey won the individual pursuit – in a time that would have been in the top eight at the Olympic final – and the road time trial.

She also competes against able-bodied athletes and won the 3 km national track pursuit championship in 2008, eight days after taking the Paralympic title, and defended her title in 2009.

She qualified to join the England team for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, where she was “the first disabled cyclist to compete for England at the Commonwealth Games”, against fully able-bodied cyclists.  She was also the second paralympic athlete overall competing for England at the Games, following archer Danielle Brown earlier in Delhi.

Due to her impressive achievements in disabled sport, Sarah was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 1998 New Year Honours.  And following her success at the Beijing games was promoted to Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

Britain’s Olympic Greats – Judy Grinham MBE

Labour Party

Judy Grinham remains the only British woman to have won a gold medal at in a backstroke event at the Olympics.

Judy was born in 1939 in Hampstead,West London, to Norman Frederick Grinahm and Flora Edith Grinham. Six months after she was born her father was sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Forces, having survived Dunkirk, he was then posted to the Middle East and did not return until Judy was nearly 7 years old. On his return, to build a relationship with his daughter he took her swimming in the open air pool in Gladstone Park, Neasden.

Over the next few years Judy learnt to swim so well that he put her up for trials at the newly formed Hampstead Ladies swimming club. She trialled three times before they felt she was good enough to join the club, and in January 1950 she was finally given a place. Her progress was slow at first, but she was determined and motivated to do well. As she gradually began to improve she started to train regularly, but training in those days was not the same as the Olympic athletes of today. She would train in public swimming pools, with no dedicated lanes, dodging members of the public. No training facilities, no sponsorship deals, the sport was strictly amateur, and the cost was funded by her family.

Over the next five years, slowly but surely, Judy began to start winning and eventually progressed to national competitions.  Six years later, in 1956, at the age of 17, she was picked for the Olympic squad and went to the Melbourne Olympics, where she outswam the favourite and by a hairs breadth won the Olympic Gold Medal in a new world record time (and the first British Swimming Gold Medallist for 32 years). She also went on to be the first athlete in any sport to hold the Olympic, Commonwealth and European gold medals at the same time.

Judy retired at her peak and went on to report on the 1960 Rome Olympics for the Daily Express.  Many years later she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queens Birthday Honours list, a full 50 years after winning gold inMelbourne.