Campaign to support GB Wheelchair Rugby after UK Sport funding is cut
PUBLISHED: 15:39 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:47 20 March 2017
It is a bittersweet time for GB wheelchair rugby captain Chris Ryan.
While he is delighted to have been chosen to lead the nation into his third major tournament, June’s IWRF 2017 European Championship, wheelchair rugby is reeling from UK Sport’s decision to completely cut the reigning European champions’ funding.
Speaking to the WHT, Panshanger’s Ryan said: “I’m really happy to make the squad for my second European Championship.
“It was one of my best moments winning the tournament last time around in Finland and I’m hoping to be part of the winning team again.
“To captain the team for a third major championship is a huge honour for me.”
Ryan captained GB as they claimed the European crown in 2015 which saw them qualify, and then compete, at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
However, UK Sport’s decision earlier this year to stop their support of his team was a devastating blow.
“It’s hugely disappointing to lose the funding for the sport,” he said. “We were so close to the top teams in Rio.
“We went toe-to-toe with Australia, the gold medallists, and should have beaten Canada having lost a lead and eventually losing by one in overtime.
“We feel we’d have a good chance of winning a medal tomorrow let alone in four years’ time.
“UK Sport is saying we can’t guarantee a medal in Tokyo which is right as there are no guarantees in sport.
“This is a highly competitive Paralympic sport, unlike some of the others, and it’s never going to be a sporting spectacle if you know who is going to win.”
GB Wheelchair Rugby has launched a funding campaign aimed at getting the team to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Ryan added: “It’s really tough without the funding.
“The team are just about able to get to the European Championship and preparations have been harder.
“We’re sticking together and we’re united in our goal to get to Tokyo 2020.
“The public can donate and we’re trying to get corporate sponsors too, but it’s going to be difficult to find the money we didn’t get from UK Sport.”
Visit www.gbwr.org.uk to donate and find out more.