Tim Holland speaks to Paralympian and West Ham fan Andy Lapthorne about Rio, the Olympic Stadium and Allardyce’s style of football

How did you come to support West Ham?

How did you come to support West Ham?

Like most people, it’s down to my family. My Dad has always supported West Ham and so do the majority of my friends so I had no choice really

Who was your favourite player growing up?

It has to be Paolo Di Canio. I loved his passion for the game and for the club.

How did you get into tennis?

I got into tennis after growing up watching Tim Henman at Wimbledon. I ended up attending a tennis foundation camp for beginners and fell in love with the game from there. Along with your doubles partner Peter Norfolk you won Silver in London.

How good a feeling was that looking back?

It was strange because I wanted to win gold so bad that I was a bit down in the dumps for a while after the final. But winning the semi final and knowing you’ve just become a Paralympic medallist was very special and a feeling I’ll never forget.

Did West Ham offer good luck before your Olympic final?

Yeah I got good luck messages from the club and from some of the players as well. I also got a message from ‘the Moose’ from Talksport. Andy Murray sent me a video message was nice as well.

Are you now preparing for Rio 2016?

Yes, I played the Australian Open Grand Slam and made the final at the start of the year and I’m at a career high ranking for singles of Number 2 in the world but everything I do for the next 4 years will be in preparation for Rio 2016.

Do you think that London 2012 has raised the profile of the Paralympics?

The London 2012 experience for everyone has done so much for the Paralympic movement, things like live TV coverage, sold out arenas everyday (not free tickets either) and the legacy that the games has already started to provide is massive. I feel that London 2012 is just the start of the Paralympics gaining the recognition it’s always deserved.

Where do you stand on the current West Ham regime – David Gold and David Sullivan?

I think they’ve been great for the club; it’s always nice to have people that support the club involved at the top of the football club. Hopefully they take us forward into the Olympic stadium and we can make that a success and hopefully see the club play Champions League football in my lifetime!

What’s your view on the Olympic stadium move?

I will be gutted to leave Upton Park, I come here every other week with family members and friends so I’ll be leaving behind a lot of memories. But I think it’s the only way to move the club forward without being able to build on the chicken run.

What are your views on the current team and the summer signings?

Very happy with what Big Sam has done so far. He has managed to bring in real quality for the style of football we play, I think we need to move a few out and replace them with quality but we are moving in the right direction with signings like big Andy and Stewart Downing coming in. We’ve hit a patch of form at the moment but once we get players back I think we’ll be fine.

What do you think about Sam Allardyce and the current style of football?

I wasn’t a massive fan when we were in the Championship. I was brought up always knowing one thing about West Ham that we would play ‘good football’ but as long as we have the right players to execute Sam’s style I’m all for it!.

What’s been your favorite West Ham match or highlight?

It has to be Paolo Di Canio scoring past Barthez at Old Trafford in the FA cup. That’s a goal I will always remember.

What’s your prediction for the season?

I’m hoping for top 8 but I’d take a top 12 finish.

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