Mike Rowbottom_3The goal for Britain's track and field athletes at these Paralympics was 23-28 medals, with between five and eight medals, and a place in the top 10 nations. After today's final flourish by David Weir and Shelly Woods in the golden sunshine of The Mall, the host nation finished with 29 medals, 11 of them gold, and third place overall.

Not surprising, then, that the Swede appointed just over three years ago as head coach of the UK Athletics Paralympics programme, Peter Eriksson, expressed heartfelt satisfaction with the way things have turned out as he stood alongside the finish line.

"We have exceeded our target," he said, before underlining his wish to see the momentum through to the Rio Paralympics of 2016.

Shortly after his appointment in December 2008, Eriksson – who had guided Canadian track and field athletes to 119 medals in the course of the previous seven Paralympics – told insideworldparasport that Britain was under-performing in the athletics arena. The 2000 Sydney Games saw a haul of 47 medals, which fell to 17 at the two subsequent Games.

"I want to make sure the team does well in 2012 and beyond," he said. "I think there's a lot of things we can do that are going to make a difference."

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Eriksson (pictured above) was encouraged in his ambitions by the fact that UK Sport was investing £6.6 million ($10.6 million/€8.3 million) for the Paralympic cycle just ended, which was 20 times more than the investment for those he oversaw in Canada.

"I do think this is a great challenge, though, because Britain can only get better," he added. "We will be optimising our performance by 2012, but what we do in 2016 could be the biggest definition."

Three years on, with the box marked 2012 boldly ticked, it seems the prospects for 2016 are heady indeed. So what's the secret – other than the money, of course?

"The change we have done is we integrate everything with the Olympic programme," Eriksson reflected today. "Same expectations, same training camps, same support. Then we upped expectations on the athletes so it's no longer a rewards programme, it's an investment in medals.

"Plus the support staff and coaching staff I have with the team is partly the same as the Olympic team. They are the best. They can make sure we deliver."

Eriksson has not got where he is today by being a softy. "Everybody has to be sure of what is expected of them," he said, ominously, after taking over his current position. "If athletes can't live up to the expectations that have been set then this is not the place to be."

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But he was bursting with praise for the two athletes who had delivered medals on the day, and indeed for the overall impact made upon the wider world by Britain's Paralympic athletes.

"I am so happy for David (pictured above) and Shelly (pictured below)," he said. "For David to step up and do it again is tough. And Shelly has had a really tough time on the track. It has been a nightmare for her. To be able to do what she did today is phenomenal. This is where she belongs.

"David is the most talented racer I have ever seen. You can see it on the track with the speed and acceleration, but now he's showing the best endurance too. How much better can it be? The best racer I've seen in history."

One of the more remarkable sporting statistics of the past week concerns television viewing figures. A total of 6.6 million watched Channel 4's coverage of Thriller Thursday in the Olympic Stadium. The ITV figure for England's World Cup qualifier football match in Moldova on Friday was 3.9 million.

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"People now understand the sport better," Eriksson explained. "There have been 80,000 for every session and it does not just come from cheap tickets. How much better can it be? And 86 or 87 world records shows the fierce competition all round.

"Last Thursday in the stadium it was the greatest night in Paralympic history and probably one of the top three nights in sports, period. It can't be much better. What did we have – 112 decibels? It was louder than for Mo Farah. Mo, you have to do it better!"

On the subject of merging resources with Olympic counterparts, Eriksson added: "We have integrated a lot already. We do events in Diamond League and we try to integrate as much as we can. We have a really good developmental programme called Parallel Success.

"But we need to get more and more people into the sport. The last three years we have got almost nearly 300 new athletes classified so we are growing. Thanks to my team we are getting there."

Eriksson described the question of whether he will be staying on to see things through to 2016 as "the £100,000 [$160,000/€125,000] question", adding: "I always wanted to stay until 2016 because first thing I said when I got here in an interview, which I got in trouble for, was the best performance from this team will come in 2016. Then it's up to negotiations. I believe that still about 2016.

"The Russians will be behind us. I would like to stay. Why move down from the top of the Premier League to the third division? It's not fun."

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He is also hoping that Canada's multiple Paralympic champion Chantal Petitclerc (pictured above), who is currently mentoring many of the British athletes, will also stay on.

Eriksson has an enthusiastic ally in his determination to create a thriving new generation of Paralympic track and field competitors for Britain.

In the wake of his marathon victory, Weir spoke about some of the up-and-coming wheelchair racers whose careers he is supervising at his Kingston club.

"We've got a bright future ahead," Weir said. "That's my part for the legacy. I'm going to make sure there's going to be a number of men and women in wheelchair races in Rio – maybe not medalling but we'll get them there.

"Hopefully from there'll be another flurry of kids, army guys, whoever wants to come and try wheelchair racing. You don't have to be elite. Just come down to us at Kingston and we'll try our best and support you."

With support of that calibre, the prospects for Rio look rich indeed.

Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, has covered the past five Summer and four Winter Olympics for The Independent. Previously he has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He is now chief feature writer for insidethegames and insideworldparasport.