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Swedish paralympic hopefuls ready for action

Published tisdag 4 juni 2013 kl 10.08
"She's had an amazing season"
(5:06 min)
Helene Ripa. Photo: Dave Russell/Radio Sweden

While most Swedes are turning their thoughts towards the summer holidays and enjoying a little sun and relaxation, there is one group that cannot wait for the cold months of winter. Sweden's winter paralympians have embarked on the first of a series of training camps ahead of the Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia next March, and are relishing the chance to add to Sweden's medal haul.  

Helene Ripa is one of the podium favourites in cross-country skiing after bursting onto the scene with a gold medal at the World Ski Championships in Sollefteå in February. The 41-year-old who lost a leg to cancer as a teenager only took up skiing four years ago although she represented Sweden in the swimming pool at the Barcelona Paralympics in 1992.

Zebastian Modin is only 18 but has already one winter paralympics under his belt having represented Sweden in cross-country in Vancouver, 2010, where he took bronze. Modin, who is blind, has struck up a winning partnership with his guide Albin Ackerot.

There is also the prospect of success in the men's wheelchair curling team. Jalle Jungnell, 59, is a veteran of the last two paralympics and is aiming for gold after claiming bronze in Vancouver.

Sweden has won 25 gold medals in its haul of 92 medals since the first winter paralympics was staged in Sweden in 1976. The games in Sochi, Russia, feature five sports - wheelchair curling, sledge hockey, alpine skiing, cross country skiing and biathlon.

Almost 700 athletes from across the world will compete, a world away from the first winter games in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, where 250 athletes with spinal cord injuries competed for medals. 

The troop of athletes will train this month in Östersund, the first of several summer camps before going to Italy in September for high-altitude training in readiness for Sochi, which is above 1500 metres.

Dave Russell

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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