Morecambe wheelchair rugby star Stuart Robinson thrilled by call-up for Tokyo Paralympics
Morecambe wheelchair rugby ace Stuart Robinson reckons securing selection for Tokyo 2020 caps a gruelling five-year cycle of blood, sweat and tears.
Robinson, 39, is part of a 12-strong squad set to represent Great Britain in Japan and will be hoping to add to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won by Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997.
He was out in Rio as part of the 2016 Paralympic Inspiration Programme and can’t wait to take to the Japanese capital after booking his place on the plane.
He said: “It's pretty amazing. It's something that we've been building towards for the last four or five years now and ever since I was part of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme for Rio, it's been a goal of mine to try and make it to the next Paralympic Games.
“A lot of hard work, a lot of sweat and tears have gone into training and here we are now, so I'm definitely over the moon.
“It's going to be a completely different Games to what the guys previously experienced it and obviously when I was out there at Rio seeing how it went.
“It gave me the inspiration to move forward and to try and be part of the squad and even though it's not going to be the same with spectators or the environment, it will still be a Paralympic Games.
“You're still going to be performing for your country, though we're performing against the best nations in the world. There’s a lot of nervousness, but a lot of excitement to get there."
Robinson is one of over 1,000 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme which allows him to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
He was injured while serving with the Royal Air Force in Afghanistan in 2013 and first discovered the joy of wheelchair rugby while recovering.
Robinson added: “While I was laying in hospital, I saw leaflet advertising for wheelchair rugby and I saw a poster advertising the Invictus Games at Headley Court military rehab centre and got involved in that.
“I was expecting a completely different sport. I was expecting a normal rugby ball – I was expecting to pass the ball backwards and little did I know it was completely opposite with a round ball and you pass it whichever way you want.
“Invictus did its job for me: it got me up and about and mobile again and opened my eyes to disability sports.”
No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has on sport at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #TracktoTokyo
Support us and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.