The two throwers are to lead the Great Britain team at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Italy

Holly Neill and Sam Ruddock have been named as captains of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team for the IPC Athletics European Championships in Grosseto, Italy.

Neill won world bronze in the F41 discus in 2013 but will be competing in the first Europeans event of her career when she takes to the field on Wednesday.

“I’m totally honoured to be asked to be team captain for the IPC Athletics European Championships,” she said. “There are a lot of experienced team members included in the squad so to be asked, I’m chuffed. I’ve been to two world championships now so I do have experience of this team setting so hopefully I’ll be able to give the debutants any guidance that they need.

“My preparations coming into this competition have been going really well,” Neill added. “I feel it is the best start to the season I’ve ever had – I got a personal best early this year and I have been hitting my targets already before this competition.”

After a personal best in the IPC Athletics World Championships F35 shot put final last October led him to fifth position, Ruddock has gone from strength to strength in the event.

Ruddock competed over the sprints at the Paralympic Games in 2012 but four years on he has progressed into one of the most competitive shot putters within the F35 event and will be looking for a strong result in Grosseto.

On his captaincy, the Loughborough-based athlete commented: “I am beyond proud – to be told I would captain this squad during this year was such a shock.

“When Paula (Dunn) pulled me to one side to tell me I genuinely thought I was in trouble. I had to ask her to repeat the question just to make sure I wasn’t hearing things!

“There is so much experience and talent on this team – I would put them ahead of me in terms of their nature and the way they act. Of course I’m proud, to even represent Great Britain is an honour but to captain your country is something really special.”

Head coach Paula Dunn explained why she had chosen Neill and Ruddock to lead the 48-strong team.

“Holly and Sam both bring great qualities to the role of team captain,” she said. “Both have valuable experience on a number of GB teams and have a strong mindset and attitude which will inspire the rest of the squad.

“The IPC Athletics European Championships will be a key stepping stone for a number of athletes targeting the Rio Paralympics later this year but also acts as an enriching experience for those team members looking ahead to the World ParaAthletics Championships in London during 2017 and Tokyo 2020. It is an exciting team and I’m looking forward to seeing how they perform on the European stage.”

The action gets underway on Saturday (June 11), with seven British athletes in finals. Paralympic champions David Weir and Richard Whitehead also start their campaigns in the T54 5000m semi-finals and T42 100m semi-finals respectively.

Meanwhile, Stef Reid is to miss the women’s T44 long jump with a slight oblique injury. Her withdrawal is said to be as a precaution in the build-up to the Rio Paralympic Games in September.

Additionally, Kadeena Cox has been reclassified to a T38 review, as has Dylan Harris following the regular classification process carried out by the IPC prior to the championships for an athlete with a review status classification.

GB team for the IPC Athletics European Championships

Senior men

James Arnott – T47m 100m
Joshua Bain – F37 Discus and Shot put
Graeme Ballard – T36 100m and 200m
Daniel Bramall –T33 100m
Jonathan Broom-Edwards – T44 High jump
Mickey Bushell – T53 100m and 400m
Richard Chiassaro –T54 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 4x400m relay
Aled Davies – F42 Shot put and Discus
David Devine – T12 1500m
Kyron Duke – F41 Javelin and Shot put
Mitchell Dutton – F38 Javelin
Toby Gold – T33 100m
Dan Greaves – F44 Discus
Dylan Harris – T38 100m and 200m
James Hamilton – T20 800m and 1500m
David Henson – T42 100m and 200m
Josh Howard – T38 Long Jump
Jordan Howe – T35 100m and 200m
Mo Jomni – T53 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 4x400m relay
Nathan Maguire – T54 200m, 400m, 800m and 4x400m relay
Stephen Miller – F32 Club throw
Stephen Morris – T20 800m and 1500m
Stephen Osborne – T51 100m and 400m
Jonnie Peacock – T44 100m
Ben Rowlings – T34 100m, 400m and 800m
Sam Ruddock – F35 Shot put
Zac Shaw – T13 100m and 200m
Andrew Small – T33 100m
Isaac Towers – T34 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m
David Weir – T54 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m and 4x400m relay
Richard Whitehead – T42 100m and 200m

Senior women

Olivia Breen – T38 100m, 200m, Long jump and 4x100m relay
Jo Butterfield – F51 Club throw
Kadeena Cox – T38 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay
Vanessa Daobry – F34 Shot put
Sabrina Fortune – F20 Shot put
Kylie Grimes – F51 Club throw
Sophie Hahn – T38 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay
Georgie Hermitage – T37 100m, 200m, 400m and 4x100m relay
Abbie Hunnisett – F32 Club throw
Jade Jones – T54 400, 800m and 1500m
Maria Lyle – T35 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay
Erin McBride – T13 100m and 400m
Holly Neill – F41 Discus
Gemma Prescott – F32 Club throw
Laura Sugar – T44 100m and 200m
Carly Tait – T34 100m, 400m and 800m
Amy Wareing – F38 Discus