Out to avenge two successive fourth-place finishes at the last two Paralympic Games will be Andy Barrow, Ross Morrison and Jonny Coggan, all of whom competed at both the Athens and the Beijing Games. The team also includes a further two players, Mandip Sehmi and Bulbul Hussain, who featured in the team that missed out on a medal in Beijing.
As part of the plan to ensure the team are in the mix for medals this time around, GB Wheelchair Rugby have recruited and developed new talent, which has resulted in six athletes making their Paralympic debut for London: team captain Steve Brown, Myles Pearson, David Anthony, Mike Kerr, Aaron Phipps and Kylie Grimes. The development process has included sending five players on a 10-week intensive training camp in the USA where the players were put through their paces, training with some of the best international athletes in the world. Four of those players have been selected: Anthony; Brown; Pearson and Phipps.
“We are definitely looking for a medal out of this Paralympic Games”, said GBWR Chief Executive David Pond. “The team has finished agonisingly close at the last two Games, despite securing strong results including three successive European golds in 2003, 2005 and 2007. So after Beijing we took some of our best young and promising talent out to the 2009 European Championships where we finished fourth and the 2010 World Championships where we finished fifth. We also put five of the most promising athletes through an intensive training camp where they competed against some of the best American players, which we knew would make our players tougher, faster and fitter.
“These players prove more exciting each day and they now have the experience they need to compete at the highest level at the Paralympic Games.”
“We demonstrated this at the 2011 European Championships where we won silver. We are now in a position where we are confident that the team we have nominated to the BPA is one that can win a medal this time around.”
The selection of Aaron Phipps – a player classified as a ‘high-pointer’ – is a particular strength this time around, as it will be the first time ever Britain has fielded a high-pointer at Paralympic level.
“The selection of Aaron is important to us and a very definite part of our strategy”, commented Tom O’Connor, Head Coach for the team. “All of the top nations have high-point players and indeed Australia’s high-pointer Ryley Batt is considered one of the best players in the world.
“Having Aaron on the team means that we have the potential to take on players like Ryley and that can make the crucial difference between winning and losing a game”
Wheelchair Rugby is a mixed team sport, and Kylie Grimes becomes only the second female athlete ever to be selected to the ParalympicsGB wheelchair rugby team, following Josie Pearson who competed in Beijing.
ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission Craig Hunter congratulated the players today, saying: “I’d like to welcome these 11 athletes to ParalympicsGB.
“These players have worked incredibly hard and shown huge dedication in order to reach this point and I am delighted that we can now announce their selection”
Wheelchair Rugby is a tough, fast game played with no fear and plenty of clashes and it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted! It’s undoubtedly one of the sports that the British public has taken to and tickets to see the sport at London 2012 are already sold out, which is fantastic. I look forward to seeing the team compete for a place on the podium in just over 100 days’ time
The selected players include Steve Brown and Mandip Sehmi who featured in the Channel 4 programme Inside Incredible Athletes, while Mandip, David Anthony and Myles Pearson, all featured in Channel 4’s programme Best of British.
Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport, the Olympics and Paralympics added:
“Today marks 50 days until the start of the Paralympic Games and for many athletes the dream of competing in London 2012 has been made a reality.I wish the very best of luck to all those who have worked extremely hard to be selected and to build on the great success achieved in Beijing.”
This announcement brings the current number of athletes selected to ParalympicsGB to 119, with a total team size of 121.
The full list of selected athletes is:
Aaron Phipps (Southampton)
Andy Barrow (Greenwich, London)
Bulbul Hussain (Whitechapel, London)
David Anthony (Neath)
Jonny Coggan (South Woodham Ferrers, Essex)
Kylie Grimes (Farnham, Surrey)
Mandip Sehmi (Warwick)
Mike Kerr (Glasgow)
Myles Pearson (St Annes on Sea, Lancs)
Ross Morrison (Farnborough, Hampshire)
Steve Brown (Sittingbourne, Kent)
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