SOME athletes dream of representing their country at one Paralympic Games, but Leamington’s Mandip Sehmi is gearing up for his third after being selected for Great Britain again in Rio later this year.
The British Paralympic Association (BPA) has announced this week the 12 wheelchair rugby players who are set to compete for ParalympicsGB at Rio 2016 which run from September 7-18.
Mandip is part of a selected team which is unprecedented in strength and experience and includes 11 European Champions and Ryan Cowling who was part of the team that brought home the gold medal at the official Rio 2016 Test Event earlier this year.
“I’m never complacent when it comes to selection,” said Mandip. “So I’ve just kept my head down and kept working.
“It’s quite amazing to be competing at my third Paralympics, it’s something I never thought I’d be doing when I first started the sport so to be selected for my third Games is such a great feeling.
“London 2012 was phenomenal, the support we got is difficult to put into words, but it’s good to know heading into Rio 2016 that support is still strong back at home.”
For a team so dedicated to their sporting achievements, they collectively also enjoy a fantastic array of hobbies and careers.
Relative newcomers to the team include Gavin Walker who has served nine years in the fire service, Jim Roberts has achieved a 1st Class honours degree in Architectural Design, and Ryan Cowling previously taught scuba diving for wheelchair users.
Alan Ash returns from a four year break that saw him miss London 2012 to compete in his fifth Paralympics, while Jonny Coggan makes his fourth Games appearance , while Bulbul Hussain, like Mandip, returns for their third consecutive Games.
The team will be captained by 25-year-old Chris Ryan and father of two Walker has been named as vice-captain. Jamie Stead, Ayaz Bhuta, Coral Batey and Mike Kerr have also been selected.
“This wheelchair rugby team has a fantastic blend of experience and up-and-coming talent that it is a really exciting prospect for Rio,” said Penny Briscoe MBE, ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission for Rio 2016.
“This group has trained together for most of this cycle, so coming up to four years, and you can really see that on court, in the way that they work so well together.
“This is a sport that really caught the public’s attention in London with its bruising on-court battles and fast pace. I am confident that the British public will embrace the sport and this team again in Rio.”
Lorraine Brown, performance director and team leader for Wheelchair Rugby, added: “I have to pay tribute to those who have not made the final cut as they have all played their part in our journey towards Rio 2016.
“We still have a lot of hard work to do as we maximise our final preparation with the selected team, and I am excited to see them in action out in Rio and what they can do.”