British team named for sledge hockey Qualification Tournament

Two summer sport world champions – Nathan Stephens and Stephen Thomas – will try to qualify for Sochi 2014. 09 Sep 2013
Gary Farmer

Gary Farmer of Great Britain

ⒸMoto Yoshimura

Most recently, the programme claimed the bronze medal earlier this year at the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships B-Pool in Nagano, Japan.

The British Sledge Hockey Association (BSHA) announced on Monday (9 September) the 14 players who will represent the Great Britain ice sledge hockey team next month at the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Qualification Tournament.

The Tournament will be held from 20-26 October in Torino, Italy, where the top three finishers will qualify for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Great Britain’s ice sledge hockey team has not competed at the Paralympic Games since Torino 2006, back when they had London 2012 gold medallist Richard Whitehead (athletics), and world champions Nathan Stephens (athletics) and Stephen Thomas (sailing).

Both Stephens and Thomas are included on the roster for the Qualification Tournament.

Head coach Andrew Linton commented: “This is the strongest team we’ve put together since my appointment as head coach, and it couldn’t come at a more important time. All the players in the GB programme have worked extremely hard and we are sure that their dedication on and off ice will reap its rewards in (Torino).”

Since missing out on qualifying for Vancouver 2010, the BSHA has established a robust development programme and established a national league structure supported by committed stakeholders.

Most recently, the programme claimed the bronze medal earlier this year at the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships B-Pool in Nagano, Japan.

In Torino, they will challenge Italy, South Korea, Sweden, Japan and Germany.

The full British team roster includes:

• Ian Warner

• Gary Farmer

• Stephen Thomas

• Karl Nicholson

• Matthew Coleman

• Matthew Clarkson

• Robin Gaze

• Tyler Christopher

• Darren Brown

• Matthew Woollias

• Bryan Hackworth

• Mark Briggs

• Nathan Stephens

• Anthony Booth

An additional four non-travelling reserves have also been chosen: Jason Solman, Robert Allen, Steven Midghall and Caroline Bonner.

There is no shortage of international experience in the squad selected, which contains 12 members of the British team that won the bronze medal earlier this year, plus seven athletes who have competed in at least one Paralympic Games.

Elite Programme Director John Neville said: “I’m delighted to welcome such a talented and experienced group of players to the British team for the Paralympic qualifying tournament. The progress that the squad has achieved over the past four years is really impressive and they now have a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate their progress in (Torino) in October.”

“Under Andrew Linton’s leadership, the squad have developed a very fast, skillful and exciting brand of sledge hockey, which has thrilled crowds and earned plaudits around the world over the last few years. We will continue to give Andrew and his squad our full support in the vital final weeks prior to the qualifiers to ensure they have every opportunity to perform to their full potential and go onto compete on the greatest sporting stage of all at the Paralympics.