Energy company BP has announced it will sponsor seven Team USA athletes vying for a place at Rio 2016, five of which are Paralympic hopefuls ©IPC

Energy company BP has announced it will sponsor seven Team USA athletes vying for a place at Rio 2016, five of which are Paralympic hopefuls.

BP therefore becomes the first-ever corporate partner of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to sponsor an athlete roster featuring more Paralympians than Olympians.

Wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden is one of two Paralympians returning as BP Team USA athlete ambassadors along with archer Matt Stutzman.

Eleven-time Paralympic medallist McFadden, who is the current world record holder in the 400 metres and 800m T54, and 1,500m T53/54, became the first individual in history to win six gold medals at a World Championships competition in 2013.

Two years later, she received the prestigious Laureus Award as the best sportsperson with a disability in the world.

Stutzman meanwhile is the top-ranked Paralympic archer in the United States, and ranked fourth in the world.

A silver medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, he holds the world record for the longest accurate shot with a bow and arrow at 230 yards.

The group also includes Lex Gillette, the current Paralympic world record holder in the long jump F11, and two US military veterans wounded in combat; Paralympic swimmer Brad Snyder and Para-triathlete Melissa Stockwell.

Snyder, a retired US Navy Lieutenant who lost his sight after stepping on a bomb while serving in Afghanistan in 2011, won London 2012 gold in the 100m freestyle and 400m freestyle, and silver in the 50m freestyle S11.

Stockwell, a First Lieutenant in the US Army, was the first female soldier in US history to lose a limb in active combat.

She competed in swimming at Beijing, and the following year began racing in triathlon since when she has been crowned world champion on three occasions.  

The two able-bodied athletes on the list are track and field athlete Sanya Richards-Ross, a four-time Olympic gold medallist, and swimmer Nathan Adrian, who has a trio of Olympic titles to his name.

“These elite athletes embody BP's values,” said George Bauernfeind, BP head of US Olympic and Paralympic programmes.

“They are strong champions for their communities and relentless in their pursuit of excellence.”

BP, which is an international partner of the International Paralympic Committee, as well as a sponsor of National Paralympic Committees in a number of countries around the world, aims to ensure that athletes have the coaching, equipment and travel capabilities they need during training and competition.

Additionally, BP will donate to organisations and charities of each athlete’s choosing.

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