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Welsh athletes to watch at the 2024 Paralympics

Welsh Paralympic champions Aled Sion Davies, David Smith and Laura Sugar
Welsh Paralympic champions Aled Sion Davies, David Smith and Laura Sugar [Getty Images]

The Paris Paralympic Games are just 100 days away and Wales' top para athletes are entering the final countdown.

Last time around, at Tokyo 2020, the 21 Welsh athletes in ParalympicsGB brought home an impressive 14 medals.

Here are just a few names to keep an eye on in 2024...

Laura Sugar

Para-canoeist Laura Sugar celebrates Paralympic gold
Para-canoeist Laura Sugar celebrates Paralympic gold [Getty Images]

The international hockey player-turned-athlete-turned-canoeist just keeps going from strength to strength.

After representing Wales in hockey, Sugar - who was born with talipes, or club foot - took up para-athletics in 2013 and went on to reach two Paralympic finals at Rio 2016, finishing fifth in both the T44 100m and 200m finals.

In 2019 she switched sports again - this time to para-canoe - and has not looked back. She has won the women's KL3 world title every year since 2021, as well as taking Paralympic gold in Tokyo.

Her most recent world title came earlier this month and so she would appear to be in the best shape possible to retain her Paralympic title. Not bad for the woman whose parents were once told would never be able to play sport.

Athletics

Hollie Arnold and Sabrina Fortune celebrate their respective world titles earlier in May.
Hollie Arnold and Sabrina Fortune celebrate their respective world titles earlier in May. [Getty Images]

The strength of Wales' para athletes - particularly in the throws events - is so great now that it is impossible to single out one or two individuals for this list.

Hollie Arnold just won her sixth world title in the F46 javelin, while Sabrina Fortune broke two world records on her way to her third world championship gold. Three-time Paralympic champion Aled Sion Davies is going for world title number eight later this week in Kobe, Japan. His training partner and Commonwealth bronze medallist Harrison Walsh goes for his first.

Back home, two-time Paralympic medallist and Commonwealth champion Olivia Breen is preparing for her fourth Paralympic Games - and rising stars Michael Jenkins and Funmi Oduwaiye have the potential to make a real statement in Paris if they make the British team.

David Smith

Five-time Paralympic boccia medallist David Smith
Five-time Paralympic boccia medallist David Smith [Getty Images]

The man with the mohawk always attracts attention when he enters a boccia court. And he normally leaves it with a medal.

David Smith has won the last two BC1 Paralympic titles and has five Paralympic medals to his name overall. This year he is aiming for a hat trick of individual golds. He also has high hopes for success in the BC1-BC2 team event, which he won way back at Beijing 2008.

His determination to add to his status as Britain's most decorated boccia player is undoubted - the only question is what hairstyle will he pick?

Beth Munro

Para-taekwondo star Beth Munro won silver on her Paralympic debut in Tokyo
Para-taekwondo star Beth Munro won silver on her Paralympic debut in Tokyo [Getty Images]

Beth Munro was so new to taekwondo at the last Paralympics that with 100 days to go she had only just had her first competitive bout. That did not stop her winning that and then going on to take silver at the Tokyo Games.

The former netballer had been spotted by Disability Sport Wales and encouraged to try taekwondo. They were right to see her potential and she has since established herself at the top of the world rankings in the women's -65kg category.

James Ball

James Ball rides behind pilot Steff Lloyd on the track
James Ball rides behind pilot Steff Lloyd in the men's tandem races [Getty Images]

James Ball arguably faces a Paralympic final in every training session as compatriot Neil Fachie continues to be his biggest rival in the sport. The pair have shared gold and silver in the men's B1 tandem event at Paralympic Games, World Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Fachie has come out on top more often - including at the Tokyo Paralympics - but Ball did win gold for Wales ahead of Scotland's Fachie at the 2022 Commonwealths.

Ball now rides behind pilot Steff Lloyd and both Welshmen will be hoping to do their country proud in Paris if selected.