GB can beat Beijing medal haul, says ParalympicsGB chief exec

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic and Paralympic sports reporter

Great Britain's Paralympians can beat their Beijing Games total of 102 medals at London 2012, but have to be aware of several improving nations.

That is the message from ParalympicsGB chief executive Tim Hollingsworth, who hopes GB can build on the 42 gold medals won in 2008.

"It is a very proud moment for other countries to come and compete at the home of the Paralympic Games," he told BBC Sport.

"They're on it and they want to compete, so without question it's going to be tough.

"I think we can beat Beijing certainly in terms of the number of medals, but at the same time the rest of the world is catching up.

"It's great for Paralympic sport and you notice that the British swimming team in the summer at the European Championships actually finished second in the medal table to Ukraine.

"You wouldn't necessarily put Ukraine in the same box of countries as GB, so from every place there are nations coming through."

Susie Rodgersexternal-link was Great Britain's stand-out performer in the pool at the Europeans with five gold medals, but at the beginning of 2011 the athletes who took centre stage at the World Championships.

They were a disappointing 18th in Beijing, but rose to third in New Zealand with double Paralympic champion David Weir contributing three of Britain's 12 gold medals.

Hollingsworth added: "The start of the year saw an incredible uplift in performance from our UK Athletics team at the World Championships - a blue ribbon Paralympic sport that is really showing progression."

Hollingsworth, who succeeded Phil Lane in May, added: "I would also say what a pleasure it was to see both Wheelchair Basketball team medal at the European Championships, and of course the fact that our riders, rowers, swimmers, shooters and many others continued to impress over the year."

In April Lord Coe said that the 2012 Paralympics could "help change attitudes" towards disability sport, and Hollingsworth admits it is a huge opportunity.

"I think for everyone concerned in these Games we've know that British success in these incredible stadia is going to be the difference between success and failure in the long term," he said.

"It is an incredible moment for the Paralympic movement as well. It's growing and I think this is a moment in time where it can actually take a huge step forward.

"We have a proud history, not just in Beijing, but in Athens and Sydney - finishing in the top two in the medal table there was an incredible achievement - but we need to at least match that."

The first major event for ParalympicsGB in 2012 will be the IFDS World Sailing Championshipsexternal-link in Charlotte Harbour, Florida, from 7-15 January.