Peter_ErikssonWe have just arrived back in the UK after a long journey home from New Zealand which has given me plenty of time to reflect on the last four weeks and in particular the last nine days of competition. And whilst there's no chance that I'll be getting carried away or putting my feet up ahead of the 2012 Paralympics, I am delighted with what the team have achieved in these World Championships.

When I took over as Paralympic Head Coach at UKA, I inherited a team that had underperformed in Beijing finishing 18th in the medal table. There was little team unity and support services were of inconsistent quality and there was not enough accountability among coaches or athletes.

So what has changed in two years to see the team come third in the medal table behind only China and Russia with a staggering 38 medals, 12 of which are gold?

Like our Olympic colleagues there was a cultural challenge ahead of us, and the four pillared approach that supports the Olympic programme is mirrored in the Paralympic programme. Those pillars are; excellence - in facilities, coaching and support teams; a coach not management driven approach; coach education and accountability.

There were difficult decisions to be made about athletes, staff and coaches. Some athletes were removed from funding, those who remained were given very clear targets with the consequences of not realising those targets spelt out plainly. Coaches too were challenged as we moved towards a more world class environment that accepted no compromises.

Reversing the fortunes of our Paralympic team was always going to be a long term project. Before these World Championships in New Zealand I would have said that a large proportion of the athletes on our programme had a greater potential to medal in Rio in 2016. The performances I've seen this last week or so have made me revise that prediction.

Some of our younger athletes, spurred on by the ultimate prize in 2012, have stepped up and shown they can mix it with the best athletes in the world and win medals. We can continue to support these superb athletes thanks to a blend of lottery funding and commercial income that UKA attracts through Aviva and other partners. Our thanks must go to the lottery playing public and our sponsors for their investment in our vision.

Despite everything there is one major challenge we have ahead of London 2012 and that is to get the public more engaged in Paralympic sport. We, as athletics, are relatively lucky, in New Zealand we had BBC and Channel 4 crews with us and this very website sent a dedicated correspondent to cover the entire competition.

Performances such as those from David Weir, Nathan Stephens and Hannah Cockcroft garnered national newspaper coverage but if we want to see the whole nation united behind the Paralympic team next year, we need to all do more; the sports, the funding agencies, 2012 and the media. Of course success helps, but sports need to do more to help the public understand the athletes and what it takes to get to the start line and we need the support of media outlets to do that.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the athletes get a break now, a chance to put their feet up and celebrate a record medal haul, but that is not what our opposition will be doing. Instead it is back into training to ensure we make every single one of the next 574 days count. We need to be better than we were in 2011 if we are to restore pride in British Paralympic athletics.

Peter Eriksson is UK Athletics Head Coach for the Paralympics and former coach to Chantal Petitclerc of Canada, the most successful Paralympic track and field athlete in history. In total, his athletes have won 119 medals in Paralympic Games. Now based in the UK, he coaches two of Britain's up and coming wheelchair racers, Hannah Cockroft and Josie Pearson,