Chris Ryan wants to channel his inner Phil Mickelson after selection for Tokyo Paralympics

Chris Ryan in action for Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby team

Chris Ryan is targeting wheelchair rugby after being named captain of Team GB for the Tokyo Paralympics. - Credit: NATHANIEL HOLLAND

Welwyn Garden City's Chris Ryan is drawing inspiration from Phil Mickelson's historic PGA Championship title success as he plots Paralympic glory.

The 29-year-old will skipper Team GB's wheelchair rugby squad in Tokyo, as he did in Rio in 2016, and the golf obsessed athlete was suitably impressed with the 50-year-old's victory at Kiawah Island.

And Ryan, who played off a handicap of two as a teenager before a car crash in 2008 turned his sporting career on its head, wants to channel that same spirit when he and the team get to Japan.

He said: “It’s incredible to be selected. That’s what we’ve trained for throughout all the last four years. We have other events, but this is the one we all want to get selected for and try and win.

“I’m a bit of a sport nut and I still follow my golf. I was in bed watching Phil win the PGA. It was on pretty late but I did watch the last half an hour.

“It was pretty cool to see, with him and Tiger [Woods] winning these majors so late into their careers, it really shows how great they are. They’re great stories.

“I think sport is a very unifying thing but especially things like Olympic and Paralympic Games. A lot of people watch sport that they don’t watch during the Games so everyone gets behind it and the teams.

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“It’s a unifying experience and when any of us teams at the Paralympics can bring some joy to people back home, it’s brilliant.”

Ryan’s wheelchair rugby career has been fuelled by UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme that allows him to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

Rio was a huge disappointment as they narrowly missed out on a podium spot after two gut-wrenching group stage defeats to Australia and Canada left them third and outside the places needed for a semi-final spot.

Since then though his team have racked up a pair of European titles and the skipper reckons his players have what it takes to rise to the top in Tokyo.

He said: “Our aim is to win gold. It would be massive. We feel we can beat any of the teams if we bring our very best and play like we know we can for the whole duration of the game. We feel we can win it.

“It would mean an immense amount. We’ve had a few wins in international tournaments now and have got a bit more experience. We’re in good shape."

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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