Today the ParalympicsGB named the 24 athletes who will represent Great Britain in Wheelchair Basketball at Tokyo 2020, for both the men and women’s teams. The men's squad includes Belfast man and wheelchair basketball double world champion James MacSorley.
Kevin O'Neill, Chief Executive of Disabilty Sport NI says,
"The team at Disability Sport NI is delighted to see James MacSorley announced for the ParalympicsGB Men's Team. James has been involved in wheelchair basketball from a very young age, working incredibly hard to achieve two World Championship titles and now a place on the Paralympic squad. It is a well deserved accomplishment and we look forward to following James on his Paralympic journey"
Speaking of the selection, Phil Robinson,Wheelchair Basetball Performance Officer at Disability Sport NI comments,
‘’James has worked so hard to get to this point in his career and there have been lots of challenges and sacrifices along the way, but to be selected for the Paralympics as part of a team that is currently ranked number 1 in the world really is something special.
James is not only a great athlete on court but has been such a role model and ambassador for the sport here in Northern Ireland. It will personally be a career highlight for me to watch him make his Paralympic debut this summer."
The GB Wheelchair Basketball Teams are currently ranked number 1 and 2 in the world for the men and women’s teams respectively.
The GB Men’s Squad, captained by two-time Paralympian Barnsley’s Ian Sagar, features eight of the history making 2018 World Championship team including the tournament’s voted Most Valuable Player (MVP) Gregg Warburton. Legend of the sport Terry Bywater’s selection will see him representing Great Britain at his sixth Paralympic Games and Liverpool’s Abdi Jama will make his fourth Paralympic appearance. Alongside these athletes 2018 World Championship Gold medallists Jim Palmer and James MacSorley and 2017 Junior World Championship Gold Medallists Billy Bridge, Lewis Edwards and Ben Fox who will each be making their Paralympic Games debut. Copa del Rey 2021 Champions BSR Amiab Albacete teammates and 2018 World Champions Harry Brown, Lee Manning and Gaz Choudhry (MVP of Copa del Rey final) complete the men’s team line up for Tokyo.
The Men’s Team is coached by internationally acclaimed wheelchair basketball performance coach, Haj Bhania OBE, British Wheelchair Basketball’s Head of Coaching and Tactical Development.
ParalympicGB’s Wheelchair Basketball Team Leader, and British Wheelchair Basketball Performance Director, Jayne Ellis commented on today’s selection announcement:
“Today is simply an incredible day for our sport but most of all for our remarkable athletes. There have been times when we may all have questioned or doubted whether this day would actually arrive, but today’s selection announcement is richly deserved.
“Throughout the last 18 months I have watched in awe as time and time again these dedicated athletes have gone above and beyond, giving their all to this sport, completely focused on their ambition to represent their nation in Tokyo. For some this has been through converting garages into home gyms, and for others this has been sacrificing weeks away from their loved ones and family so that they can attend GB training camps.
“Today’s selection news should also be credited to the selfless loved ones and families of our GB teams, this incredible support network is truly the team behind the team and their unwavering encouragement and support of our athletes should not go unrecognised.”
British Wheelchair Basketball’s Participation Director, Jo Richards added:
“The Paralympics signifies such an incredible moment in time for our sport. People who have never engaged with (or even heard of) wheelchair basketball become captivated by the teams’ journey.
“With Inspire a Generation we hope to offer opportunities for those individuals inspired by our fantastic athletes to register for a IAG Paralympic Legacy Open Event and get involved with their local club or sign up to an IAG community six-week wheelchair basketball course.
“The sport really is as much fun and exhilarating as it looks on court in Tokyo, and each of those athletes started their Paralympic journey within our UK Club network and inspired by the athletes who came before them. Everyone starts somewhere – inspire a generation offers opportunities for everyone to begin a wheelchair basketball journey.”