Great Britain’s Walker Hungry for Sitting Volleyball Success22 Sep 2011
Heading into next month’s men’s Sitting Volleyball European Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Great Britain’s team is on the rise after cracking the world’s top 10 with a seventh-place finish at July’s Continental Cup.
Nine other countries have qualified for the European Championships, which start on 8 October and, according to Great Britain middle hitter Charlie Walker, the London 2012 hosts could surprise a few squads.
“We’ve made huge progress in the last two years, so if we continue that progress, we can shock a few people,” Walker said.
Other teams set to fight it out for the European crown in Rotterdam include: Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Greece, Latvia, Serbia, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands.
The winner of the event will also qualify for London 2012, and Walker only recently found out that Great Britain qualified for next year’s Paralympic Games.
After never touching a volleyball in his life, Walker joined the squad in 2009, just a year after becoming a double-amputee when he contracted meningitis while training with the British Army’s bomb disposal unit.
“Weirdly, having no legs helps,” the 29-year-old Aylesbury native said of Sitting Volleyball. “In my position, anyway.
“You’re right up against the net and you don’t have legs, so you can block more effectively.”
At London 2012, Walker admits Great Britain’s toughest competition will come from Bosnia and Iran. Bosnia, an awfully large team in size according to Walker, won silver at Beijing 2008, while Iran, an agile, pass-friendly squad that took gold in 2008, will both be tough to beat.
“They’ll probably be the two big guns at the Paralympics,” Walker said. “But a lot of the other teams – Germany, Russia and a lot of the European teams – will be really tough to beat too.
“I love the movement, the speed and the fact that you don’t need anything,” Walker said. “No wheelchairs. There’s no fancy prosthetics. It’s just sit on the floor and go. You can put up a court anywhere and have a game.”