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Lesbian athlete leaves Paralympics with pride intact

GB's Claire Harvey may not have won a medal, but the sitting volleyball captain is looking forward to Rio 2016
GB sitting volleyball captain and only openly lesbian athlete Claire Harvey may not have won a medal, but she is looking forward to Rio 2016.

The only openly lesbian athlete of the Paralympic Games 2012 has left the competition without winning a single match.

But Great Britain’s Claire Harvey, who captained the sitting volleyball team, has left the Games with her pride intact.

After losing out to Japan in three sets to zero, she said: ‘This was always going to be a very tough tournament.

‘It was all about gaining experience in this sort of arena, which you don't get anywhere else, and to take our sport into Rio.’

Harvey, who lost the use of her right leg after a car crash in 2008, said her team will have to qualify for Rio 2016 by going through Europe, which is notoriously a tough pool to play in.

‘It’s time to regroup,’ the 40-year-old said. ‘We’ve got a lot of positives to take away but we’ve got a lot of hard work to do too.’

Also on the team is Martine Wright, who lost both her legs in an underground tube explosion in 7/7 London bombings.

‘We are disappointed, obviously,’ said Wright. ‘But people have to remember that Japan have been to Beijing already and have got one Paralympics over us.’

She added: ‘It’s been an emotional rollercoaster but the strongest emotion I have is pride.

‘I feel so proud of every woman in this team and we have done our absolute best on court.’

Harvey is one of only two openly gay athletes in the Paralympic Games. The other, fellow Briton Lee Pearson, won a gold, silver and bronze medal in the equestrian competition.

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