Marlow medallist: 'Paralympics have transformed perception of disability'

Bucks Free Press: Marlow medallist: 'Paralympics have transformed perception of disability' Marlow medallist: 'Paralympics have transformed perception of disability'

PARALYMPIC champion Naomi Riches says the London 2012 games have transformed perceptions of people with disabilities.

The rowing gold medal winner, from Marlow, has hailed the impact the event has already appeared to have.

She told the Free Press: "It's been so busy at the Olympic park because just want to come and see sport. It's not that they want to see disabled people play games, it's they want to see elite athletes.

"That's what's really changed, the fact it used to be disabled people playing sport but now it's elite athletes that happen to have disabilities. It's turned around, it's now that way around."

Naomi, 29, who is registered blind, triumphed at Dorney Lake and now has a golden post box in Marlow High Street to mark her success.

She said attitudes and approaches to the disabled seem to be shifting as a result of the Paralympics.

She said: "It's really refreshing to have people asking questions out of a genuine curiosity and willingness to learn, which wasn't the case a while ago.

"People either didn't show an interest or did so for the wrong reasons.

"I think disability has become something much more normal now. It's not something to be hushed up, it's not something people have to pussy foot about."

Naomi has hailed Marlow Rowing Club, where she trains, for its vital role in helping her achieve victory and has appealed for the town to get behind its restoration appeal after last year's fire.

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