Paralympic gold medallist Danny Crates has paid tribute to the current crop of Great British para-athletes for inspiring young people with disabilities to reconnect with sport.

The ParalympicsGB athletics squad won 33 medals in Rio two years ago, including scooping 15 golds by the likes of Jonny Peacock, Hannah Cockroft and Sophie Hahn.

Now, the Athens 2004 800m champion believes the legacy of London 2012 and Rio 2016 has inspired a new wave of disabled children to pursue their own Paralympic dreams.

“We are still a long way away from our Olympic counterparts, but in terms of the complete strength in depth we are getting there,” said Crates at the SportsAid charity SportsBall in London, where boxer Caroline Dubois was crowned as the 2018 SportsAid One-to-Watch award winner.

“We have lots of young para-athletes coming through, whereas we used to just cherry pick the best.

“We are now starting to see kids now at the age of 8, 9 or 10, starting to show their talents with a disability.

“They now look up to the likes of David Weir, Jonny Peacock, Hannah Cockroft. They are looking up to those athletes more and more.”

Crates, who has been involved with supporting the SportsAid project for over ten years, believes the charity is playing a fundamental role in supporting the development of the next generation of Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

He said: “I’ve been involved with this charity for many, many years and the thing I have always spoken about is the fact that athlete’s lives ask for so much more.

“But no matter what happens they have got SportsAid helping them. If they were doing training three days a week, now they are doing five.

“The money is really important because the investment that families make is huge financially.

“The money is not the biggest thing, it’s the arm around the shoulder. When you go into events like this where you have got big corporate investors that say we really believe in you.

“Here tonight there are lots of young athletes and their families, but we have the corporate world here as well. When you look into the athlete’s eyes, you see hope, optimism, passion and dreams.

“These are people on the cusp of their careers. Some of the people here today aren’t going to make it and some are going to become Olympic gold medallists. It’s incredible.”

You can help support the next generation of British Olympians and Paralympians by making a regular or one-off donation to SportsAid. Please visit for further information.