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British Paralympic team 'saddened' by Mills' withdrawal

The British Paralympic Association has said they were "saddened" by Heather Mills' withdrawal from the selection process for the 2014 Sochi Paralympic game following a dispute with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) over her adaptive equipment.

The IPC have since accused Mills of "harassing a Paralympic official" after the decision, however the former model's spokesman claimed there was a "vendetta" against her.

In a joint statement, the British Paralympic Association and British Disabled Ski Team said: "The British Disabled Ski Team were informed by IPC Skiing that there was an issue with the adaptive equipment that Heather Mills was using that needed to be addressed before she would be allowed to compete.

Heather Mills was hoping to compete in a ski event at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics. Credit: PA Wire

"As a result of this and on the back of an injury, Heather Mills has decided to resign from BDST, thereby removing herself from the selection process for the Sochi Paralympic Games.

"Occasionally in sport equipment issues arise, especially with adaptive equipment and the interpretation of the rules in relation to its use.

"Therefore we are all saddened that she has decided to retire at this stage, rather than working with BDST and IPC Skiing to resolve the issue."

Heather Mills won World Cup ski silver in August

Heather Mills won a World Cup silver medal in the women's adaptive slalom event earlier this year in New Zealand.

Mills, who joined the British Disability Skiing team in 2010, also won four gold medals at the US Adaptive Alpine Skiing National Championships last year.

The IPC claim Mills went into a "wild tantrum" after learning that she would not be allowed to compete. Credit: PA Wire

Mills, who had her left leg amputated below the knee following a collision with a police motorbike in 1993, had hoped to compete in the 2014 Sochi Paralympics.

However following a dispute with the International Paralympic Committee over adaptive equipment, Mills withdrew from the selection process.

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IPC chief: Mills' alleged behaviour 'will not be tolerated'

The behaviour allegedly displayed by Heather Mills "will not be tolerated", the International Paralympic Committee's communications chief has said.

The IPC claim Mills grabbed an official after learning that she would be unable to compete in the alpine skiing event at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics.

Spokesman Craig Spence tweeted the statement with a link to a Daily Express article about the alleged incident.

Mills' team claim there is a "vendetta" against her and that she was shouted at by the official.

Heather Mills accused of 'harassing' Paralympic official

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has claimed Heather Mills "verbally abused" and physically harassed" an official after learning that she would not be able to compete at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics.

The IPC said Mills, 45, went into a "wild tantrum" after learning that she would not be allowed to participate in the alpine ski competition due to an issue with the adaptive equipment she would have been using, according to the BBC.

Heather Mills was hoping to compete in a ski event at the 2014 Sochi paralympics. Credit: PA Wire

"She jumped on me. She grabbed me from the back and she started to say that 'you don't know who I am, I will make your life miserable.'"

However, a statement on behalf of the former model claims Mestre shouted at her after Mills "waited patiently to try and explain...that her left boot was legal and purely cosmetic to abide by the archaic IPC rules."

Mills' coach has claimed there was a "vendetta" against her.

David Weir 'overlooked for home with downstairs loo'

Six-time Paralympian gold medalist David Weir is stuck in a home with no downstairs loo, forcing him to climb the stairs using his arms, his family say.

Weir, who won four gold medals at the London Paralympics, has been asking his housing association in London for a more suitable home, but believes he has been overlooked over fears of “favouritism”.

David Weir celebrates with his children Ronie, Tillia Grace and Mason at the Olympic Stadium in London Credit: John Walton/PA Wire

His fiancée Emily Thorne told The Sun (£): “We are not asking for a mansion, we just want somewhere with three bedrooms and a downstairs toilet."

Weir cannot get a mortgage because his sponsorship deals and appearance fees are not regarded as reliable sources of income.

David Weir with his gold medal after winning the Men's 5000m - T54 at the Olympic Stadium, London Credit: John Walton/PA Wire

Roundshaw Homes, which allocated council homes at his south London estate, said it could not comment on individual cases.

'Gap needs to narrow' between Paralympians & disabled

Para-Equestrian gold medalist Sophie Christiansen has said that the UK needs to "narrow the gap" between how it views Paralympians and attitudes towards disabled people in general.

Sophie told ITV News: "I think a year ago at the Paralympics everyone was at an all-time high. perceptions of disability had really changed. I think a tear on perceptions are still changing, they're still positive towards Paralympians and to a certain extend disability.

"I do think a slight negativity is creeping in, in terms of stories in the news about 'benefit scroungers'.

"We really need to narrow that gap between Paralympians and the regular disability community. You can be disabled and not do sport and still do amazing things."

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Scope: 'Benefit scrounger' rhetoric damaging attitudes

The disability charity Scope has blamed "'benefit scrounger' rhetoric" for the worsening attitude towards the disabled.

An ITV News poll has shown that more than 80% of disabled people say that attitudes towards them have not improved since the Paralympics:

The starting gun has been fired on the legacy debate.

Changing attitudes is at the heart of legacy. The Paralympics were a break-through moment. Disabled people had never been so visible. Disability had never been talked about so openly. But you don't change society in a fortnight.

Speak to disabled people and the same issue comes up: 'benefit scrounger' rhetoric; the divisive myth that most people on benefits are skivers.

Disabled people say they feel like they've done something wrong, because they need support to do the same things as everyone else.

The Government must stop the scrounger rhetoric once-and-for-all.

The Paralympics has inspired a small number to be more involved in sport or the community.

But ultimately it comes down a simple point: if you don't have the support you need to get up, get washed and get out of the house; if you're struggling to pay the bills - it's a big ask to join a tennis club.

– Alice Maynard, Chair of disability charity Scope

Disabled attitudes 'got worse since the Paralympics'

Almost a year on from the start of London Paralympics, the disability charity Scope is arguing that its legacy "hangs in the balance". A survey carried out for ITV News reveals that nearly a quarter of disabled people believe attitudes towards them have got worse since the Paralympics.

Disabled people are warning that short term improvements in public attitudes, sport and community involvement are being undermined by 'scrounger rhetoric', a crisis in living standards and a squeeze on local care.

In a survey of 1,000 disabled people carried out for ITV News :

  • 80% do not think attitudes towards them have improved in the last twelve months
  • 22% saying that things have actually got worse, and most of them blaming "benefit scrounger" rhetoric
  • 1 in 5 disabled people report they have either experienced hostile or threatening behaviour or even been attacked
  • 100 days after the Paralympics 72% had said that the Paralympics had a positive impact on attitudes towards the disabled in general.

Paralympian stuns family with wedding dance

Paralympian Nathan Stephens has spoken of his joy at dancing for the first time in his life with his bride Charlene on their wedding day.

The paralympic javelin and discus thrower had not used his prosthetic legs for years because he finds them too painful - but he was determined to start his married life with a whirl around the dancefloor.

The couple spent spent eight months practising the three-minute route, which reduced their family and friends to tears, as Rupert Evelyn reports.

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Video: Paralympian dances for first time at wedding

Warning: Video contains some flash photography.

Paralympic athlete Nathan Stephens danced for the first time in his life with his bride Charlene at their wedding reception on Saturday.

The couple had spent eight months secretly practising the three-minute routine, which reduced family and friends to tears as they watched.

The 25-year-old later admitted: "I was more nervous walking onto the dance floor than when I competed in the London Olympics."

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