23 December 2018
Award-winning GB wheelchair basketball team striving to inspire
**Great Britain’s men’s wheelchair basketball team are relishing being ones to watch over the next few years. **
Martin Edwards and James MacSorley were part of the team who claimed gold – and GB’s first global title – at the World Championships in Hamburg in August.
And that success was rewarded with the Bill McGowran Trophy for achievement in para-sport at the Sports Journalists’ Association’s British Sport Awards.
Edwards said: “It’s unbelievable. We’ve always been a podium team and we’ve been fighting and fighting to secure that first place and the gold medal.
“We never quite achieved it but we’ve always believed, and I think that’s the key thing there – we have always believed.
“We’ve worked hard and last year, we centralised.
“We have an elite performance centre up in Sheffield at the EIS and, with help from funding from UK Sport and the National Lottery, we’ve been able to have that base and it’s really helped us.
“A lot of the guys were together for the whole year and it paid off big time.”
However, there is no time to rest.
In order to achieve qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, the team must finish in the top four at the European Championships in Poland next August.
“We have no reason to believe we can’t go out there and win the whole thing but the main goal there is to get top four to be able to go on and succeed in Tokyo,” said MacSorley
“We’re all working really hard and trying to get better.
"Find your local club and come and have a go."
“It’s unique now, coming off of a world championship victory, because there’s going to be a lot of teams looking at us trying to take us down but that makes it more enjoyable.”
With all eyes on the journey leading up to Tokyo and a young squad behind them, competition for places within the GB team is fiercer than ever.
Edwards said: “We’ve got a young team – the average age was early to mid-20s, and a lot of the young guys are now centralised as well.
“They’re constantly pushing and it’s fantastic that we’ve got so many people.”
GB are also also hoping that their World Championship success can help to further grow the impact of wheelchair basketball across the country,
“At the moment, wheelchair basketball has got 17,000 participants but the association is striving for a lot more. We believe that we can get up there to 70,000,” said Edwards.
“There are loads of opportunities for participation. Have a search on the BWB (British Wheelchair Basketbal) website. Find your local club and come and have a go.
“Anybody can play and able-bodied people can play in the National League. It’s great for everyone.”
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