Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson feels it will be a near-impossible task to select the National Lottery Paralympian of the Year after barnstorming performances by multiple British athletes at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Nine athletes and one team have been selected following ParalympicsGB's overwhelming success at Tokyo 2020, where Great Britain finished second on the medal table with 124.
Of those medals, 41 were gold and nine of the short-listed athletes took home the top prize: Dame Sarah Storey, Sir Lee Pearson, Hannah Cockroft, Reece Dunn, Kadeena Cox, Maisie Summers-Newton, Emma Wiggs, David Smith, and the GB Wheelchair Rugby team.
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Wheelchair basketball player Gaz Choudry picked up a bronze in Tokyo and is also being recognised for his achievements, having taken on the role of player-coach on the eve of the tournament, guiding his side to a podium finish.
The National Lottery Awards are the annual search for the UK's favourite National Lottery-funded projects.
The awards celebrate the inspirational people and projects who do extraordinary things with National Lottery funding.
Since National Lottery funding started in 1997, Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes have won 1,053 inspirational Olympic and Paralympic medals.
Baroness Grey-Thompson explained why the ten names had been selected: "It's the training and the preparation and the dedication and the focus that they bring," she said. "And then it's those amazing moments in time, where you remember where you were when you watched it, you remember that moment forever.
"Someone like Dame Sarah Storey, I've known her since she was 14. Sadly, because of restrictions, I couldn't get out to the road race to be there to congratulate her.
"But those moments just make this massive difference and it's the people as individuals, as well in terms of when you start to know a little bit about their backstory, or about what got them to that place.
"Each of the shortlisted athletes has done amazing things. Like rugby, they've been so near and so far at times, and then to get through to the final was just amazing and I think you see it on their faces when they win, how much it means.
"This time as well, there's a lot more talk of friends and family and support because people couldn't get there, I think we had more insight into an athlete's life and what they go through."
Eleven-time Paralympic champion Grey-Thompson picked out a debutant and a veteran as her two tips for the top prize.
Summers-Newton won two gold medals on debut in the pool, while Storey became Britain's most successful Paralympian of all time when she claimed her 17th gold medal in the road race.
"Maisie at 19, to go there and win two gold medals but to be so together in the mixed zone as well is amazing," she continued.
"The story of Maisie, watching Ellie and then competing against Ellie, it's Hollywood stuff isn't it really?
"Definitely Dame Sarah as well. Partly that's my personal connection because I've known her so long and I know how hard she trains.
"But actually, you could go through any of them on the list, and produce a really strong argument: Gaz Choudhry, to go to the Paralympics thinking you are playing, and then by the way, you're going to be player-coach.
"That's asking somebody to step up at the most important moment of their lives, to do something else.
"For everyone, there are these really compelling stories behind them about what they've done and how they've got there."
During the Tokyo Paralympics, Great Britain won their 1000th medal since The National Lottery began funding athletes when George Peasgood secured bronze in the C4 road cycling time trial.
The National Lottery funds more than 1,000 elite athletes, on UK Sport's World Class Programme. It allows them to train full time, have access to the world's best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
No one supports our athletes more than National Lottery players, who raise around £30 million each week for good causes, including elite sport.
Baroness Grey-Thompson explained what a difference funding makes to ParalympicsGB athletes:
"It's been amazing in terms of support for coaching, for medical support, allowing athletes to be full time, looking at equipment. It's made a really big difference," she added.
"That is something that other nations don't have in the same way that we do. You hear all the athletes in the mixed zone who are thanking The National Lottery, they get what it means to them.
"I think some of the challenges out there, the lack of crowds, things like that, actually the resilience that sport builds up in you and the coping skills and the adaptability, that's what athletes have.
"But that is in huge part thanks to the National Lottery funding, you can't underestimate how big a difference that makes."
The shortlist was whittled down to ten and now the public can have the say on who they want to be named as The National Lottery Paralympian of the Year.
Swimmer Dunn took home the most silverware out of the nominees, with five medals, Emma Wiggs won two medals in canoeing while Pearson earned three golds at his sixth Games.
Cockroft took her tally to seven gold medals in wheelchair racing, Cox won two golds in para-cycling while also completing in athletics, and Smith became Britain's most successful boccia player after winning his third gold.
There is also the option to support someone who you believe missed out as Baroness Grey-Thompson explains:
"If people feel really strongly about it, then they can also tweet @lottogoodcauses with their own favourite athlete as well.
"It's hard as you have to have a shortlist, you do, but people have also got the option to name others they feel should be in the running for the National Lottery Paralympian of the Year."
Choose your National Lottery Paralympian of the Year by checking out the shortlist and voting either on Twitter @lottogoodcauses or on www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards - entries must be received by 5pm on 23rd September 2021.
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