As the prospect of competing in Rio at next year's Olympic #Games looms ever closer for many athletes, Great Britain have begun to assemble their teams. Helena Lucas has been named as the first confirmed athlete who will represent her country in Brazil next summer. The 40-year-old will be among the favourites for the Paralympic one-person 2.4mR keelboat event.
Ms Lucas has plenty of experience of what she can expect at the sporting extravaganza, having competed in two previous Games. Besides competing in London 2012, she was also part of the Paralympic team in Beijing in 2008. Her 7th place there and the experience she gained ably demonstrated the benefits of succession planning in sporting circles.
She has shown her tenacity to succeed at the sport throughout her career so far, despite being born with no thumbs and only limited use of her arms.
She is also something of a trailblazer in the sport for Team GB. At London 2012 she became the first sailor from these shores to win a medal at the Paralympics since her sport was added to the programme in 2000. What's more, she achieved that distinction in grand style, winning the gold medal. She could add to her pioneering reputation by defending her title in Rio, as no previous Paralympian has yet achieved that historic feat.
Reacting to the news, the Southampton sailing star said that it was "amazing that I'm the first athlete to be selected." She was also slightly relieved that she can now focus on her preparation ahead of defending her title.
The decision for the single place in the sailing class came down to a choice between two sailors. Ms Lucas was given the nod over her rival Megan Pascoe, who will have been hugely disappointed to miss out. The reigning champion has been in top form this year though, securing a medal position in each of the designated qualification events by the Royal Yachting Association.
Ms Lucas is a well-respected figure among the Team GB community, having previously stood in for no other than Shirley Robertson in the Yngling class at the Beijing Olympic Test Event. Her contribution was rewarded then with a silver medal. Ms Robertson famously became the first female British athlete to win two gold medals at consecutive Olympics.
The Paralympian sailors will have extra motivation to succeed in Rio, as their events will not feature in Tokyo 2020. The contentious decision has been taken to drop sailing from the list of sports to be included in the programme there. One of the new sports to come in then will be taekwondo, which is a hugely popular sport in Asia.