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Birrell is proud to be Paralympics medallist
4:47pm Thursday 4th October 2012 in Sport
NIKI Birrell says he is happy to have won a medal at the Paralympics, even if it is not the colour he had targeted beforehand.
The Knutsford-born sailor scooped a bronze medal with Alexandra Rickham in the SKUD class, although the reigning world champions had been favourites for first place.
“I’m not going to lie, the aim was to win a gold medal,” he told the Guardian.
“I was speaking to my dad in the pub [on Thursday] and I said I haven’t lost gold, I won a bronze.
“It was the biggest Paralympics that will ever be held and it was in London.
“It took a lot of hard work and dedication to get there, so I can’t be disappointed.”
Birrell was part of a Great Britain team that won gongs on the water for the first time in London, completing a journey that started at Winsford Flash Sailing Club.
He returned to his roots when meeting former clubmates at a gala in Southport last week.
“It’s been quite a surreal few weeks for me,” he added.
“The support at the games was a little bit different to what I expected as we prepared for it to be a lot smaller than what it was.
“We thought it would be an anti-climax so it was strange to get so much support, but in a good way of course.
“Going to the stadium to watch Oscar Pistorious was unbelievable.
“We couldn’t buy a drink when we were wearing our tracksuits!”
Birrell plans to take a break before deciding his next move, although he has been asked already about his plans for the contest in Rio in four years’ time.
His response was emphatic though: “I’ll be going to Rio – that’s for sure.”