Palace date’s huge honour for Steph

Gold medal winning paralympic swimmer Steph Slater
Gold medal winning paralympic swimmer Steph Slater
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Preston swimming star Stephanie Slater admits she is still on cloud nine after achieving her dream of winning a Paralympic gold medal.

The 25-year-old ace, who hails from Longridge, was part of Team GB’s successful 4x100m 34 points medley relay team which smashed the world record in Rio de Janeiro last month.

Swimming the third and butterfly leg inside the Olympic Aquatics Centre, Slater produced an heroic performance to help her team to glory.

The former Preston Swimming Club member also scooped a superb silver medal in the S8 100m individual butterfly event.

And she agonisingly missed out on a podium place in the 50m freestyle – finishing in fourth spot – while she came fifth in the 100m backstroke.

Her success is all the more remarkable considering her participation at the Games was touch-and-go after injury and illness kept her out of the water for large periods this year.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Slater. “It’s an absolutely amazing feeling to come away with two medals at my first Paralympic Games.

“It has totally blown me away because it was touch-and-go as to whether I would actually make it to the Paralympics.

“So I’m absolutely over the moon to come away with two medals.”

One of the country’s most promising able-bodied swimmers at one time, Slater was struck down by mysterious injury to her left arm during training for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, in Delhi.

After two years of tests and assessments, Slater – who also suffers from a degenerative eye condition – was eventually diagnosed with nerve damage to her Brachial plexus.

After taking part in the 2012 London Olympics as a games maker, Slater was inspired to jump back in the pool and targeted the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

In recognition of her outstanding achievements in Brazil, Slater was invited to Deepdale on Saturday, where she was the guest of honour for North End’s 2-0 victory over Aston Villa.

Today, she is hoping to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace as Her Majesty congratulates all of Team’s GB’s successful Olympians and Paralympians at a special ceremony in London.

“I can’t wait for today,” said Slater, who won a silver medal to the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, two years ago.

“I have never been to Buckingham Palace before – it will be nice to meet the Queen because I have never met her before.

“It is such an honour to attend events like this and to be able to go to Deepdale last Saturday.

“Hopefully, people will hear my story and they will be inspired by it.

“That’s what I am hoping for.

“Obviously, I am proud to call Preston my home town and it’s nice to be able to put the town on the map.”

n BIG INTERVIEW: Read more from Slater about her success in Rio and her plans for the future in Saturday’s Evening Post