Chris Ryan 'so proud' as GB lift record European title
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 July 2017
Welwyn Garden City Olympian Chris Ryan has declared himself "so proud" after Great Britain's Wheelchair Rugby squad made history with victory at the IWRF European Championships.
Ryan was the skipper of the side who picked up an unprecedented sixth title with a 49-41 win over Sweden.
The success means the side have also automatically qualified for the World Championships, which are to be held in Sydney, Australia, next year.
Speaking to www.gbwr.org.uk, the jubilant skipper said: “I feel amazing and what a performance against Sweden. As reigning champions we had to come here and defend the title and I am so proud of us all.”
The game was close throughout the opening stages, with the sides tied 12-12 after the first quarter.
Sweden’s star man Tobias Sandberg was a constant threat as he ensured the score was tied with a last second point.
It was still anyone’s game in the second quarter, with the two teams going point-for-point all the way to half time with the score locked at 25-25.
But in an excellent team performance, Paul Shaw’s men started to ramp up the pressure in the third quarter and held a three-point lead into the final eight minutes.
As the seconds ticked by, GB put in a solid final quarter to really stamp their authority on the game and eventually win with an eight-point margin.
The final was a repeat of the 2015 competition, which GB just managed to win by a single point, really highlighting how far the team have come since that tournament in Finland two years ago.
“Sweden are such a calm and clever team and it took us a while to break them down, but we got there in the end,” said Ryan.
“We know we are getting better because we are working so hard. To win that game with no player over a 2.5 is massive for us.
“I am so proud and I can’t really find the words.”
The success is made all the more impressive as the team had their funding completely removed by UK Sport and now have to fund the sport themselves.
CEO David Pond said: “We will go on to greater and better things and my attention now turns back to the funding issue.
“It would be a tragedy were GB not to be in a position to take its rightful place in the World Championships.”