Following a successful weekend of performances at the BT Paralympic World Cup, the British Paralympic Association announced on Monday (28 May) the 24 wheelchair basketballers who will comprise the men’s and women’s teams at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Bringing experience to the men’s team is Simon Munn, who will be competing in his sixth Paralympic Games, and veteran of three Games Jon Pollock, who has recently returned to the squad after a shoulder injury.
The announcement follows a strong performance at this year’s BT Paralympic World Cup where the men won silver.
Head Coach Murray Treseder confirmed his squad, saying: “We believe we have selected the strongest possible team to bring success in London 2012. There is one significant change to the team that won the European Championships with Jon Pollock’s inclusion after a nine month absence.
“We have been pleased with the progress we have made in the last few months and we know we have a lot of upside in our team structure work.
“It’s also great to include four players in the squad who will be making their Paralympic debut in Ian Sagar, Dan Highcock, Gaz Choudhry and Matt Sealy.”
Simon Munn, for whom London will be his sixth Paralympic Games, commented “It’s a real honour to have been picked for the team to compete at London 2012 and I’m also thrilled for the others who have been selected for the team although I feel for those who have just missed out as we have all worked and trained especially hard for the past four years to be there.
“It is definitely a special achievement for me to be able to compete in my sixth Games especially with the competition and depth in the current squad. Hopefully with the support of the British public we can be a real force to be reckoned with in London.”
Selected for the women’s squad today is Clare Strange, who is one of the most experienced members of the team and for whom London will be her fourth Paralympic Games, and Helen Freeman, who has been training in the USA as part of her preparations for the Paralympic Games.
The squad is bolstered by a number of young and up-and-coming players including Amy Conroy, Laurie Williams and Maddie Thompson, all of whom were recruited after Beijing and have been regular team members since 2009. The presence of these players means that the team for London has an average age of just 25.
Head Coach for the women’s squad, Garry Peel commented: “It was a really tough decision and we left it right until the last game at the BT Paralympic World Cup on Saturday to make the final choice. It’s a really tough when you have 15 girls who all deserve to go but we can only take 12 and we feel we’ve got the right 12.”
GB’s Louise Sudgen said, “Congratulations to everyone who has been selected, to be honest I don’t envy Garry at all as the selection he made is really difficult. We’ve got 15 really strong players and it’s a shame we couldn’t take everyone but I believe we’ve got the strongest squad going into the Games and really looking forward to going out and showing the home nation what we can do.”
The women’s team finished fourth at the BT Paralympic World Cup.
Craig Hunter, Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB congratulated the teams. He said: “We have real pedigree amongst the Wheelchair Basketball teams that we are announcing today, both within the men’s team who have historically been successful, and within the women’s team who have worked incredibly hard over the last four years.
“Wheelchair Basketball is always such a popular sport at the Paralympic Games and I am sure London will be no different. I would really encourage the British public to get their tickets for this sport because it is so fast and exciting to watch.”
The men’s team has ambitions to win their third successive podium place at a Paralympic Games, having already won bronze medals in Athens and Beijing, while the women’s team is seeking to improve on their 8th place finish.
Following selection one of the next stages on the road to London 2012 for the athletes is the delivery of their kit. UPS will be supporting ParalympicsGB by coordinating the delivery of London 2012 team kits to Paralympic athletes across the UK. In this extensive logistical operation UPS will be warehousing, packing and delivering over 27,000 items to 300 Paralympic athletes at training locations up and down the country. Then ahead of the team's arrival to the Paralympic Village, UPS will collect all the kit and deliver it to each athlete's room ensuring a comfortable and easy move into the village for the home team. UPS are the Official Logistics and Express Delivery Supporter of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Monday’s announcement brings the current number of athletes selected to ParalympicsGB to 173.
The selected athletes are:
Abdi Jama (Born: Burao, Somalia, Lives: Liverpool, Merseyside)
Matt Byrne (Nottingham)
Peter Finbow (Born: Bradford, Lives: Dewsbury, West Yorkshire)
Matt Sealy (Born: Toronto, Canada, Lives: Maidenhead, Berkshire)
Ade Orogbemi (Born: Lagos, Nigeria, Lives: Liverpool, Merseyside)
Jonathan Pollock (Born: Liverpool, Lives: Wigan, Lancashire)
Jon Hall (Born: Doncaster, Lives: Chesterfield, Derbyshire)
Ian Sagar (Born: Sheffield, Lives: Barnsley, South Yorkshire)
Simon Munn (Born: Aylesbury, Lives: Peacehaven, East Sussex)
Gaz Choudhry (Born: Pakistan, Lives: Ealing, London)
Terry Bywater (Born: Middlesborough, Lives: Cleveland, North Yorkshire)
Dan Highcock (Born: St. Helens, Lives: Liverpool)
Sarah McPhee (Born: Westminster, Lives: Preston, Lancashire)
Laurie Williams (Born: Wythenshawe, Lives: Altrincham, Cheshire)
Clare Strange (Born: High Wycombe, Lives: Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire)
Louise Sugden (Born: Reading, Lives: High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire)
Helen Turner (Born: London, Lives: Chobham, Surrey)
Helen Freeman (Born: Watford, Lives: Watford, Hertfordshire)
Natasha Davies (Epsom, Surrey)
Sarah Grady (Born: Watford, Lives: Stretham, Cambridgeshire)
Judith Hamer (Born: Plymouth, Lives: Exeter, Devon)
Maddie Thompson (Born: Chesterfield, Lives: Hope Valley, Yorkshire)
Caroline Maclean (Born: Newmarket, Lives: Haverhill, Suffolk)
Amy Conroy (Born: Norwich, Lives: Norwich)