Essex-born wheelchair racer, Richard Chiassaro, is celebrating a slew of big wins after competing at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics European Championships in Italy.
The athlete, from Harlow, picked up both gold and silver medals across the T54 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m races, and holds the world-leading time so far for 2016.
He receives funding from Active Essex through the Inspired Athletes scheme which supports athletes with their day-to-day training and entering competitions.
The IPC Athletics European Championships is the last major opportunity for athletes to qualify for the Paralympic Games and Richard is one of six Road to Rio athletes hoping to be selected to represent Team GB this summer.
Gary Sullivan OBE, Chair of Active Essex, said: “We’re so excited for Richard and proud of the hard work he’s put into training.
“Active Essex places great emphasis on nurturing athletes and supporting them where possible, but the drive and determination they demonstrate is really what sets them apart.
“Good luck to Richard and I look forward to hearing about his future achievements."
In addition to Richard’s solo wins, he was also part of the 4x400m relay team who finished first and set a new national record of three minutes eight seconds.
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Sport and Physical Activity, said: “It’s fantastic to see one of our own Essex athletes achieving so highly, particularly within an international setting.
“This is not only great news for Richard, but extremely exciting for the entire sporting community in the county; I hope more local people feel inspired to get outside, get active and try a sport or physical activity they might not have considered before.
“Congratulations to Richard and I’d like to wish him all the best in qualifying for the Paralympics.”
Richard trains for Harlow Athletic Club and in addition to racing, is part of the wheelchair basketball team, Essex Outlaws.
Richard added: “Active Essex has completely changed the way I am able to train.
“The support I receive through the Inspired Athletes scheme means I can focus solely on my training and moving up the world rankings; this would have been much harder without their belief and I’m excited to see what the future holds in the lead up to Rio.”