28 June 2019
Britain wary of France test at European Championships
Sophie Carrigill says Great Britain are taking absolutely nothing for granted at the Wheelchair Basketball European Championships ahead of tomorrow’s opener against a new-look France.
Hosts Netherlands and Germany are the big beasts of the European zone, contesting the last 14 finals, with no other nation having ever grabbed gold at the continental gathering.
But with qualification for the 2020 Paralympics at stake for teams finishing in the top four, Miles Thompson’s side must safely negotiate games against France and Spain to qualify for Tokyo.
Carrigill, a holder of three European Championship bronze medals, is urging caution ahead of their opening game in Rotterdam but insists she and her side will rise to the occasion.
France can't be taken for granted first up
“We’ve had a lot of bronze medals at European Championships and that’s because the European zone is really competitive,” said the Yorkshire product.
“Netherlands and Germany are always strong but Spain are doing great things and France can’t be taken for granted first up.
“Although we had such inspiration from the World Championships, you almost have to flush and go again, such are the challenges you face.
“The feeling for me going towards tournaments gives me goosebumps. The pressure’s on and that’s where I thrive. I love big games and as a team, we relish big occasions, so I’m really excited.”
Britain basked in the glory of a first-ever silver medal at last summer’s World Championships in Hamburg, beating Germany convincingly in the semi-final before falling to the Dutch in the final.
First opponents France are a very different proposition to the team that finished eighth in the global showpiece in Hamburg, with a new coach and four changes to their squad.
And they will also be without a groundswell of experience, seasoned internationals Fabienne Saint Omer-Delepine and Agnes Glemp-Etavard making way for Loeiza Vari Le Roux and Lisa Clary.
Leah Evans, at 22 one of the younger members of Thompson’s squad, emphasised the importance of stability and consistency in selection as Britain’s rivals chop and change.
“This group is special because we’re united,” she said.
“We’ve been together for years despite the fact our average age is 24. We’re young but we’ve been around a long time.
“Other teams are in the process of rebuilding when players have left, we have that edge on them.
“The Dutch are stable but Germany are rebuilding with talent coming through. We’ve worked hard over the last couple of years to lay the foundations and we can’t wait to get going.”
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