Wheelchair rugby blow is '˜kick in teeth'
Dreams of competing in the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020 are in tatters for a Morecambe man who plays wheelchair rugby as a member of the Great Britain team.
Stuart Robinson, who lost his legs in Afghanistan after his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, is one of the 14 strong team who are training for the next games.
But UK Sport have pulled the plug on all their £3m funding which has left the team in limbo.
Stuart said: “It is a kick in the teeth. Where do we go from here? £3m is a lot of money to raise. Despite the decision we are trying to compete.
“A lot of the guys relied on the funding to allow them to train three times a week and still receive awage to live off.
“They are now in limbo. How do they survive day to day? All eyes were on Tokyo and it has dashed a lot of hopes.”
Stuart lives in Morecambe with wife Amy and has a son George and three daughters, Amelia, Poppy and Honey. He received a bronze medal after competing in the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando.
He said: I want to perform at the highest level to prove to my kids that I can do it. To have that taken away it will be difficult. However, we are hoping we can compete with the limited resources we have.
“I’ve already had messages of support from family and friends.and I’ve been sending them to the website to donate.
“If people want to start up their own way of funding that would be most welcome.”
Following an appeal, UK Sport said they were unable to invest in wheelchair rugby, and other sports for the Tokyo 2020 cycle.
Rod Carr, chair of UK Sport, said: “We are operating in a tight financial envelope, and have responsibilities to both develop the system underpinning our best athletes as well as the sports and athletes themselves, and sadly our investment won’t stretch to these sports (including wheelchair rugby) for the Tokyo 2020 cycle.” A crowdfunding campaign has been launched by Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby after UK Sport cancelled their funding.
Members of the general public are being asked to show their support for one of the most popular of paralympic sports by signing up to help secure the future of GBWR. Please visit: http://gbwr.org.uk/; or people can donate £5 by texting SAVE55 £5 to 70070; or people can donate £10 by texting SAVE55 £10 to 70070.
The campaign is aiming to raise £3m which is the sum required if the team is to stand any chance of getting to the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020.
Funding will be used to fund athletes to train, travel and compete in international competitions and to provide professional coaches and performance staff.