Good luck messages to Josef Craig as South Tyneside swimmer goes for Paralympics gold
The 19-year-old has had a turbulent four years since being catapulted into the sporting spotlight after winning gold at the 2012 London games.
The following years saw him move swimming clubs to Sunderland and have his disability re-classified.
But in true Josef style, any moments of self-doubt were quickly swept aside by an absolute determination that he would make it to the Paralympic Games in Rio.
Now swimming in the S8 group, Josef who has cerebral palsy, will take part in his first race in Rio tomorrow in the 400m freestyle event.
Supporters of the Jarrow lad will be glued to their television screens as they once again get behind the talented sportsman as he begins to live his Rio dream.
Josef’s former teacher at St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, Alicia Berry said: “As a student he was such a fantastic role model and still continues to be. All of our students are interested in how he is doing.
“He was so inspirational as a student and he has become such a mature individual, especially with the way he has handled his reclassification.
“We really hope all the hard work he’s done in the past year has paid off. Josef will tell you he wants to bring home a medal and we really hope he achieves that.”
Deborah Roberts, co-founder of Cancer Connections where Josef is a patron, said: “We just know Josef will give 110 per cent in Rio. He has worked so hard to get where he is and everyone at Cancer Connections are right behind him and wishing him all the luck in the world. He is just an absolutely fantastic role model and patron.”
Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Alan Smith, said: “On behalf of the borough I would like to wish Josef the very best of luck for the Paralympics in Rio.
“He made us extremely proud when he brought home gold to South Tyneside from the London in 2012 games and I am sure he will do us proud once again in Brazil.”
MP for Jarrow and Hebburn Stephen Hepburn said: “I wish Josef all the best in Rio. In London four years ago he was a world record breaker and proved himself amongst the elite in his field on the international stage. Having met Josef I also know first-hand what a lovely lad he is and a credit to South Tyneside. Good luck Josef!”
Josef will be taking part in his first race, tomorrow. His second race, the 100m freestyle, will take place on Sunday and on Friday week he will compete in the 50m freestyle event.
All heats start at 1pm UK time with finals due to take place at 9pm.