‘I let a lot of people down’: Paralympic tennis ace using London 2012 silver medal heartbreak as Rio motivation

The heartbreak of missing out on gold at London 2012 has kept Eastcote’s Andy Lapthorne motivated to go one better in Rio.

The wheelchair tennis player left his first Paralympic Games with doubles silver after teaming up with Peter Norfolk four years ago, but Lapthorne sees it as a gold lost, rather than a silver won.

The duo, seeded number one in the competition, entered the arena for the final, cheered on by 8,000 partisan supporters, many of whom were Lapthorne’s friends and family, who live in east London.

But after missing out on the top spot of the podium, Lapthorne said he took the defeat hard.

“To have their support was amazing. Coming out on the finals day, to 8,000 people for the doubles final, was amazing and something I will never forget,” said the 25-year-old.

“But also it was something that really hurt me, having that silver medal. We really wanted the gold, we were the number one seeds going into it and deep down we know we should’ve won.

“We had a good record going into it and I thought I let a lot of people down with that silver medal.

“That has been my driving force for the last four years, every day, waking up at 5.30am, just trying to go one better than the silver medal — that has been my motivation.”

Lapthorne, who has cerebral palsy, is being sent to Rio by the British Paralympic Association, which is a registered charity responsible for funding, selecting and managing the Paralympics GB team.

Rio is expected to be the most competitive Paralympic Games ever and Lapthorne said his experience in tennis’ Grand Slams will stand him in good stead in Brazil.

“Compared to a lot of the other Paralympic sports we are quite lucky, we have a full world tour, we go to the Grand Slams, we are non-stop,” he added.

“I love tennis, I love going to the Grand Slams, I got to hit balls with Novak Djokovic at the US and Australian Open, so things like that are amazing, but competing for your country, with Great Britain on your back, it is tough to beat that.

“At a Grand Slam I am playing for myself, but at a Paralympics I am playing for everyone else too, that is what makes it so special.”

Lapthorne will compete in both the singles and doubles competition in Rio, and the world number three is clear about his objectives.

“The goal is to get two gold medals,” he said. “For anyone in our sport, if that’s not your end goal then maybe you shouldn’t be on the court.

“But it’s going to be tough, we’re up against some great teams.

“Me and Jamie [Burdekin] in the doubles are working so hard to try and get that one right, and then the singles I am number three in the world, I have beaten everyone there is to beat this year.

“I’m the only player this year to beat the world number one, so I am in good shape and touch wood I can stay injury free, and go there and do what I can do.”

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