Loughborough University sprinter celebrates shock Paralympic call-up
10 July 2012
Loughborough University’s Sam Ruddock is celebrating today after a shock call-up to the GB squad for the London Paralympics – just four months after taking up sprinting.
The 22-year-old played for the university’s American football team but after being spotted by an athletics coach he took up sprinting in March and was today included in a 49-strong athletics squad that includes eight other athletes with links to Loughborough University.
Sam, who suffers from celebral palsy, impressed the selectors at the McCain Birmingham Games on Sunday when he ran the100m and 200m.
But he said he was still shocked and proud to realise his dream of making the Games in August after being told by the coach yesterday in a telephone call that he was in the team.
Sam, a T35 athlete, said: “I don’t know what I did to deserve this opportunity. Obviously I know what I did – but I only started sprinting four months ago!
“There are guys in the development squad who really deserve this spot, and I have a spot in the team!
“I genuinely thought I would have to wait another four years to get my Paralympic debut, and maybe next year to make my debut in GB colours at the world championships.
“The fact that I have been given the chance to wear the colours at a home Paralympics after just four months in the sport is… ridiculous!
“They must be out of their minds, but I’m really thrilled and proud.
“I have now got a solid month and a half of training to bring my times down and do my country proud. It’s weird that I am saying that.
“The pressure of making the team is off now so I can really focus and not have to worry.
“It’s exciting times and the team launches this weekend in London when they bring all the disciplines together to meet the Press. That’s is something to look forward to.”
Sam, who has just completed a three year degree in International Relations and is hoping to get a scholarship to do a Masters, believes he will be the first Paralympian from Rugby.
He was spotted by Charnwood Athletic Club coach Joe McDonnell, a Loughborough graduate, while training at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium last December.
Joel suggested he try sprinting and since then his life has been a whirlwind. He ran his first race, the Charnwood Open, in April, at the university and then went to the IPC Croatian Open where he won gold in the 100m, silver in the 200m and was ranked eighth in the world.
His personal best for the 100m is 13.7secs and 28.7secs for the 200m.
The eight other athletes, who are either students, graduates, or train at Loughborough are: Dan Greaves (F44 discus), Dan West (F34 shot putt), Richard Whitehead (T42 100/200m), Kieran Tscherniawsky (F33 discus), Jonathan Adams (F34 shot putt), Libby Clegg (T12 100/200m), Stef Reid (T44 100/200m/F44 long jump), and Claire Williams (F12 discus).
All the throwers are coached by Loughborough’s Jim Edwards.
The selection of the nine athletes takes Loughborough’s representation at the Games to 14.
Also going are Emma Hollis (swimming), and four from wheelchair basketball – Natasha Davies, Judith Hamer, Clare Strange and Laurie Williams.