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Welshpool ace eyes Paralympic gold

 
Created on 04/06/2021 @ 08:55

By Paul Martin, Sportsbeat

Jim Roberts has vowed to ‘end on a high’ as he looks to provide a fairytale finale to a glittering wheelchair rugby career with gold in Tokyo.

Born and raised in Welshpool, The 33-year-old will leave the sport at the conclusion of the Games to pursue a career in architecture which he is currently balancing with training commitments at Lilleshall in Shropshire.

His decision draws the curtain on a career that has included three European titles, two of which have come since a fifth-placed finish at the Rio Paralympics five years ago.

Having been named among the 12-strong squad hoping to go deeper into the competition this time around, Jim is determined to make the most of his last shot at the sport’s ultimate prize.

“It would be massive,” said Roberts, one of over 1,000 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme. 

“I’m definitely going for gold – I’m not someone that wakes up and wants to get silver, that’s not in my psyche.

“I’m going there to win it and it would be lovely to come away with it. It has been a rough year for everybody and while I’m sure there will be plenty of people wanting to stick their hands up and win that gold medal, I’ll be doing my best to bring it back.

“The postponement was tough. I knew this was going to be my last Paralympics so having to put the work in over an extra year wasn’t easy but the team have really pulled together.

“We’ve put in a lot of work over the past four years and now we just want to see the job through.

“I want to end on a high. I’m not someone to dwell on what has been, I’m looking to the future and the next steps in my life.”

Roberts and his teammates are able to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support through UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme – and have a golden chance to settle some old scores this summer.

Having been pipped to a semi-final spot by Canada in 2016, the two nations will do battle in the group stage once more in Tokyo and Roberts hopes his side, seeded fourth, have learned their lessons.

“The core of the squad is very similar to five years ago, when it was a first time at the Games for a lot of us,” said Roberts, who is 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.

“We were definitely in a strong position to get into a semi-final but Canada wanted it more on the day and they pulled it off in overtime. We have them in our group this time so hopefully we’ll return the favour.

“We all thought we could have done a little better in Rio but I don’t think there’s unfinished business. We’ve definitely parked that and moved on.

“This will be a Games by itself and we are not holding grudges - we are going in fully focused.”

Who is Jim Roberts?

Jim was a successful Welsh cross country runner when he caught bacterial meningitis whilst an under graduate at Coventry University. This resulted in a prolonged stay in hospital, and the amputation of both his legs. A nurse who supported his rehab, introduced him to the sport of Wheelchair Rugby and Jim quickly became an influential force in the game.

Leaving hospital in 2010, Jim returned to his studies, gaining a 1st Class honours degree in Architectural Design. He was picked for the development squad in 2012 and made his GB debut in 2013 at the European Championships. Jim has played on both sides of the Atlantic – for Phoenix Heat in the winter and London WRC in the summer – winning national honours for both teams and gaining recognition as MVP at the US Nationals in 2015.

At the European Championships in September 2015, Jim was awarded Best in Class, clinching the winning goal to reclaim the European title after 8 years, and gaining automatic qualification to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Following his performance at the Rio Paralympics in September 2016, Jim was highlighted by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) as a player to watch in 2017. Jim was again awarded Best in Class at the 2017 Europeans, after the team had succesfully defended and retained their European title.

  • No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £30 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


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