Hackney swimmer in Beijing 2008 squad

Hackney’s Paralympic swimmer Dervis Konuralp has been selected to represent Great Britain at the Beijing 2008 Games.

He is the only swimmer from London to have made it into the squad and he set three new British records in the qualifying trials.

The 27-year-old athlete has been training in Hackney at Clissold Leisure Centre and London Fields Lido – the capital’s only outdoor heated 50m pool.

Dervis, who has a visual impairment, said: “I’m so excited to be part of the squad. It should be an amazing experience. All my hard work has paid off, but now I need to fine tune my training and work on certain areas to try to get an even quicker time. It is my ultimate ambition to bring back the ‘big G’ (gold) from the Paralympics.”

He added: “Sport is so accessible for children and is another means of achievement for them. It has helped me so much and I hope it can do the same for other young people. The 2012 Games can inspire people of all ages and abilities to start getting active now.”

Dervis has two bronze Paralympic medals and 35 international competition medals. He was inspired by London becoming the host for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to go for his dream of bringing back a gold medal from Beijing for the 100m butterfly.

He has lived in Hackney all his life and is the borough’s first Olympic and Paralympic ambassador, visiting schools and events across the borough to inspire young people to get involved in sports and other physical activities.

Mayor of Hackney, Jules Pipe, said: “I’m delighted Dervis has been selected for the swimming squad at this summer’s Paralympic Games in Beijing and I wish him the best of luck. He is a talented athlete who trains extremely hard and really deserves his place in the squad. He is also a great role model for our young residents, telling his story to inspire them to get involved in sport and physical activity.”