Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

There's Nothing like a Dame

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

There's Nothing like a Dame

Article excerpt

Teesside's Tanni Grey-Thompson - Britain's most successful Paralympian ever - is planning more track heroics in 2005 after picking up her New Year Honour.

Tanni, who capped a brilliant 2004 by being made a Dame in the New Year's Honours list, has won 16 medals - including 11 golds - so far in an illustrious career that spans five Paralympic Games.

Her medal haul included a pair of golds in the T53 100m and 400m at the Athens 2004 Games in September.

Both of those events feature on the athletics programme for the inaugural Paralympic World Cup, which takes place in Manchester from May 12 to 15.

The World Cup will be one of the highlights on Tanni's 2005 calendar, and she is aiming to show her incredible versatility a month earlier when she goes in search of her seventh victory in the London Marathon in April.

Husband Ian, a fellow British international, coaches the spina bifida sufferer, who also has the European Championships in her sights this year.

Tanni, who lives in Redcar, says it was a "pretty cool" experience to gain her New Year honour.

She said: "I still can't believe it. I never ever, ever dreamt I would get something like this.

"It's really exciting and a great honour. They don't generally give too many out like this to disabled athletes."

The Welsh-born wheelchair veteran had already been awarded the OBE and MBE.

The new Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire wound up her outstanding 16-year Paralympic career in the Greek capital in September.

At the age of 35, she has ruled out chasing more Olympic honours but isn't yet sure on when she will actually retire from competitive action altogether.

"'Dame Tanni' ... that sounds pretty cool," she said. "My dad Peter got pretty emotional when he heard what my new title would be.

"Throughout my career my family have been so tolerant and terrific when I would jump in from somewhere or other and leave my dirty washing. They allowed me to be so selfish with what has been an obsession. …

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