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Crates retires

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Danny Crates Bird's Nest
Flagbearer at 2008 Paralympics
Danny Crates, one of the UK’s most successful Paralympic athletes of the past decade is to retire this summer after one final race at the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace on Saturday 25 July.

Crates, who famously won 800m gold in the T46 class at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens was also the flag bearer for Team GB at the 2008 Games. Unfortunately, he was unable to defend his title when a calf injury ruled him out on the eve of competing in Beijing.

His return to international athletics was blighted this summer when a hamstring injury at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester in May forced him to pull out of the men’s T46 800m race when well placed with just 200m remaining. However, the 36-year-old can look back on a glittering career that has also seen him win World and European gold, as well as hold the world record in his class.

Danny Crates said: “The last two years have been tough for me. I had the massive high of carrying the flag in Beijing, followed closely by the massive low of not being able to compete. In the lead up to the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester this year, I had a hamstring injury and I probably made a comeback to racing a week too early.

“It was very disappointing and was the first time I have not finished a race in 10 years. The mind is willing, but I’m not sure that the body is anymore. I am going through a stage that every sportsperson has to face up to at some point. London 2012 would be a long shot for a 39 year old athlete and there isn’t another international championship open to me for another 18 months.

“I have always been hugely honoured to pull on a Great Britain vest. It means the world to me. I have had 11 years as an international athlete and it is not going to be easy to walk away. Of course as a middle-distance athlete, there are elements of the training that I won’t miss, but I have always loved competing.

“Ever since I began to think about retirement, I have always wanted to do it at Crystal Palace. As an athlete you get to travel and compete all over the world, but the true excitement comes in front of a home crowd. I know it will be very emotional with my family and friends present, but I cannot think of a better way of saying thankyou to all those who have supported me over the years.”

Looking back on his career, he picked out Athens as an over-riding memory. He said: “It was one that meant so much to me. To take that gold medal in a tough field in a tough class was so very special. To be able to turn to my family and friends in the stadium after I had been presented with the medal was simply a perfect moment in time and is something I will never forget.

“I will also be forever grateful to my coach Ayo Falola. I first joined him for training alongside Donna Fraser and Catherine Murphy and they really taught me what it meant to be an international athlete. I was a runner, but by the time Athens came around, I really felt like I was a proper international athlete. Ayo honed my skills and helped me become the athlete I was.”

Peter Eriksson, UKA Head Coach – Paralympics said: “Danny has had a brilliant career and has left an indelible mark on the sport here in the UK. He is hugely respected, not just as an athlete but as a man.

“He has given an enormous amount to Paralympic athletics and I hope he will remain involved in the sport in some capacity as he still has a lot to offer. I wish him the very best for this final race at the Aviva London Grand Prix and hope the crowd there will give him the send off he so richly deserves.”

Tickets for the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace, London on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th July are available by phone on 08000 556 056 or online at www.uka.org.uk