Great Britain Announce Strong Wheelchair Basketball Teams for BT Paralympic World Cup Assault
about a year ago
Great Britain’s men’s Wheelchair Basketball team have been boosted with the return of long-term absentees Jon Pollock and Terry Bywater for their forthcoming BT Paralympic World Cup assault, while the women’s side have named an equally strong team as both groups go in search of a historic double in Manchester.
Bywater returns to the British fold after surgery to repair a wrist injury he aggravated during his sides victorious trip to Israel to compete at the European Championships last September.
Pollock, meanwhile, returns to captain the squad after a shoulder injury forced him to miss both the BT Paralympic World Cup and European Championships last year.
Both inclusions signal a huge boost for the side, who are currently rated number one in Europe, and with a head-to-head with fellow London 2012 gold medal contenders USA, and tough encounters with Germany and Japan, on the horizon, Pollock is just desperate to be back amongst the team and ready to prove his worth once again at the Manchester Regional Arena.
"We’re against some of the best teams in the world and that’s what you need in a Paralympic year, to be tested against the best possible opposition."Jon Pollock
The 34-year-old, who launched his major GB major Championship career in Sydney 2000, said: “It’s fantastic to be named in the Standard Life Great Britain squad and it’s fantastic to be finally be out playing once again with the lads. It’s been a tough time, but I'm pleased it’s all behind me now and I'm looking forward to continued success with what is clear to be a fantastic group of players.
“The team is in remarkable shape and really looking very good, so I'm just proud to be part of it and I hope I add to the success we’ve had in the past. We’ve got some fantastic experience and talent within the squad so there’s no reason we can’t do something special at this BT Paralympic World Cup.
“We’re against some of the best teams in the world and that’s what you need in a Paralympic year, to be tested against the best possible opposition. I missed out on the tournament last year so I'm determined to make up for lost time and really go for it this time around.
“The BT Paralympic World Cup is historically a superb event with amazing support from the Manchester and British public, so I just cannot wait to be involved this time around.”
The return of Pollock and Bywater, who between already have six Paralympic Games outings between them, is sure to lift the whole squad, but one man is more pleased than anyone to see him there.
Pete Finbow made his debut back in 2001 and alongside Pollock and Bywater has seen the team develop and evolve into the world-class gold medal contenders they are now.
He added: “Our mantra is ‘you’re only as good as your worst player’ and that’s made us all even more focused and the strides we’ve made as a team have been astounding. Having Jonny and Terry back has strengthened us even more and by the time of the Paralympics, we’re going to be ready for anything.”
Meanwhile, women’s coach Garry Peel has named a top-strength side as his team looks to retain the title they won at last year’s event.
His side performed fantastically well last time around and Peel knows they will have their work cut out once again when they face 2011 defeated finalists Germany, Australia and world number one team USA this year.
Peel said: “I’m delighted with the team I’ve named and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they can do. All twelve are fantastic players in their own right and work fantastically as a team and the tactics we like to employ.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see how we fare against the likes of USA and the other top teams on show, but these are the teams you have to test yourself if you want to get to the top.
“We’ve shown some fantastic stuff in the past weeks and months and I'm expecting us to shine at the BT Paralympic World Cup.”
Once again taking her place in the team is Helen Freeman, Britain’s youngest player at the 2008 Paralympic Games, and the Watford-born star believes her team have the beating of world number one side USA and are raring to go.
“All twelve of us girls can’t wait to get going really,” said Freeman. “The BT Paralympic World Cup is a quality competition and all four teams will be desperate to gain any kind of advantage over the others with under 100 days to go until the Paralympics.
“The team is in great shape and having won the event last year, we’re all looking forward to going out and retaining our title.”
4 – Gaz Choudhry – 4.0
5 – Dan Highcock – 4.5
6 – Matt Sealy – 2.0
7 – Terry Bywater – 4.5
8 – Simon Munn – 4.0
9 – Jon Pollock – 2.5
10 – Abdi Jama – 1.0
11 – Matt Byrne – 1.5
12 – Ian Sagar – 3.0
13 – Peter Finbow – 2.0
14 - Jon Hall – 3.0
15 – Ade Orogbemi – 2.5
4 - Caroline Maclean-2.0
5 - Sarah Grady-2.5
6 - Clare Strange-1.5
7 - Helen Freeman-4.0
8 - Laurie Williams-2.5
9 - Judith Hamer-4.0
10 - Amy Conroy-4.0
11 - Madeleine Thompson-4.5
12 - Helen Turner-3.5
13 - Louise Sugden-2.0
14 - Frances Ray-2.5
15 - Sarah McPhee-4.5
The BT Paralympic World Cup is the largest annual international multi-sport competition in elite disability sport. BT is entering its fourth year as title sponsor, upholding its strong commitment to disability sport in the UK that stretches back over twenty years.
Manchester has committed for the eighth consecutive year to hosting elite international athletes competing across Wheelchair Basketball, Athletics and Football 7-a-side. In addition, Boccia and Sitting Volleyball will once again be represented, with international matches staged during the competition.
The 2012 BT Paralympic World Cup will once again be broadcast by Channel 4. For more information about Channel 4’s Paralympic coverage, visit: www.channel4.com/paralympics.
The BT Paralympic World Cup is sanctioned by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) and supported by ParalympicsGB, BT and Manchester City Council.
Tickets for the BT Paralympic World Cup are on sale. For more information visit: www.btparalympicworldcup.com
The event schedule will see the Manchester Regional Arena host all events, starting with Athletics on 22 May, followed by Wheelchair Basketball and Football 7-a-side on 23-26 May. The Boccia match will be staged on 24 May and the Sitting Volleyball international match will be held on 25 May.