Judith hopes the legacy lives on
EXETER'S sporting treasure and wheelchair basketballer Judith Hamer has reflected on her Paralympic journey.
When the 21-year-old former St Luke's Science and Sports College pupil found out she was selected for Team GB in May, she said it was the team's goal to win a place on the medals table.
Although the 12-strong side missed out on their dream, they still managed to clinch seventh place, an improvement on Beijing 2008 when they finished eighth.
Judith, who had her right leg amputated six years ago after 18 unsuccessful operations to stretch it, started her sporting career with Exeter Otters Wheelchair Basketball Club.
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She gained the Princess of Wales Award in 2007 and in 2008 was selected to take part in BBC2's Beyond Boundaries programme, trekking 300km up the Amazon.
Judith's fighting spirit has remained unwavering and she now has her sights fixed on Rio 2016.
The young athlete, who is now studying pharmaceutical chemistry at Loughborough University, has described being part of the Paralympic Games as an "honour" and the "pinnacle" of her career so far.
"Playing at the Paralympics is different to anything else, teams come out fighting harder than ever," she said. "It's the biggest tournament there is."
In the initial pools games, GB lost three matches, 62 – 35 against the Netherlands, 51 – 24 against Australia, and 67 – 50 against Canada but beat Brazil 42 – 37 securing their spot in the quarter finals.
The side then lost against Germany in the quarter finals 55 – 44, automatically ruling them out of the running for a place on the medal table.
Their subsequent clash against China saw them losing, 72 – 55 but then the team beat Mexico 59 – 37 securing them seventh place.
"We weren't expecting to have an easy ride," continued Judith. "We knew it was going to be hard work. But we can play much better than we did in the pools, maybe it was the pressure to perform.
"We knew we were good enough to beat any teams at this stage and we were right up there, we've beaten Germany a number of times so we were devastated to lose against them and be out of the running for a medal.
"We were pretty heartbroken but had to get on with it.
"The team played so well in the quarter final, things finally clicked, Germany were scared, their coach didn't know what to do.
"So it was hard to go back and play China, who we hadn't played since 2009 so it was an unknown and they shot so well.
"But seventh is an improvement on the last Games."
Judith, who took part in the athletes' parade through the capital, said she believes London 2012 has been the "greatest games ever" and boosted the profile of disabled athletes.
"I feel proud to have been involved," she said. "The parade through London made us see how much of an effect the Games have had on the public – you don't see it in the village which was like a bubble.
"Having the Games in London has done so much for disability sport, changing people's perception of disabled athletes for the better, with the Paralympic competitors first and foremost being seen as athletes not disabled. I really hope that legacy is longlasting."
She added: "There's a lot of work to do between now and Rio, we're going for gold in the European Championships next summer when we want to show the Germans we can beat them!"