Four members of Leicester Tigers’ Wheelchair Rugby team have been selected to represent Team GB at the inaugural King Power Wheelchair Rugby Quad Nations Tournament.
Nicholas Cummins, Muhammad Islam, Jamie Stead, and Gavin Walker will join players from across the world in an event that brings together Nations brings together Paralympic Gold, Silver and Bronze winning medallists from Australia, Japan, the USA and Great Britain for a sporting event filled with thrills, spills, endless energy and extreme action.
Taking place from 9th – 11th March 2018 at the Leicester Arena, the King Power Quad Nations is an international tournament that will feature the world’s best players from the four top nations. As reigning European Champions Great Britain will be looking to capitalise on home court advantage as they take on the World’s very best and they need your support.
PHD student Nick Nicholas got hooked on watching Wheelchair Rugby at the Beijing Paralympics whilst recovering from Meningococcal septicaemia which he contracted at 19.
Inspired to get involved, he contacted his local team and became a regular part of the Talent Development squad before being invited to join the GB squad in 2014. He made his debut at the BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge in 2015 and attended the Rio Test Event in February 2016.
Although narrowly missing selection for the final 12 for the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Nick remained part of the training squad throughout the build up to the games, successfully making the selection for the 2017 European Championships in Germany where the team took the gold and defended their title.
Nick said; ‘It’s pretty special for me to be playing with this amazing group of athletes and to be selected for the Quad Nations here in my home town of Leicester. To be selected is a real honour and with this team I think we will surprise a few people!’
Muhammad Islam was first introduced to Wheelchair Rugby during rehab at Stoke Mandeville hospital after he broke his neck in a road traffic accident aged 17. Following his release from hospital Ships took time to build his strength and coordination before joining a wheelchair rugby team and was has been involved with the GB Squad since April 2013. Selected for the World Championships in 2014, Muhammed narrowly missed selection for Rio 2016, but will be representing GB at the King Power Quad Nations.
Muhammad said: ‘I am so excited and so proud to have been selected for this tournament. It will be the biggest of my career so far and I want to prove that I am capable of competing against the very best in the world. My home club is Tigers, so I am really pleased this is happening in Leicester’.
As a keen sportsman, Jamie, who has Cerebral Palsy, tried a number of sports before settling on wheelchair rugby. He made his international debut at the Canada Cup in 2014 and has gone on to represent GB at European and World level, returning from the European Championships in Finland with a gold medal. Jamie made his Paralympic debut as the 2016 Rio Paralympic games and was a key part of the squad’s success defending their title at the 2017 European Championships.
Jamie said; ‘It’s going to be great playing these teams in Leicester which is where my home club Tigers is. I want to really make my mark in this tournament and ensure I am on that plane to Australia later in the year as part of the World Championships team. I know we are a medal winning team and this year we will prove it.’
A former Firefighter and father of two, Gavin was introduced to wheelchair rugby during his rehab in the Sheffield Spinal Unit following an accident when he broke his neck, slipping on some wet decking in 2010. In 2011 Gavin went along to his first training session at the Marauders club and was selected to the Development Squad in 2011/12.
In 2013 he was selected for the national squad and became a full-time athlete. He competed in his first Major at the European Championships in Antwerp in 2013, returning with a bronze medal, and went on to compete in the World Championships in Denmark in 2014. In July 2015 Gavin was appointed Vice-captain, working alongside new captain Chris Ryan.
Gavin made his Paralympic debut at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games and having successfully retained the title at the European championships in 2017, Gavin continues to be Vice-captain the squad at the King Power Quad Nations held in Leicester in March 2018.
Gavin said; ‘It’s been a long time since Rio and the disappointment of not making the final four still hurts. It cost us dearly but this year is our chance to prove just how good we are and it all starts with playing the top three teams in the world in this tournament – bring it on!’
One of the only full-contact disability sports, Wheelchair Rugby (originally called Murderball) is played by two teams of four who aim to score by carrying the ball across the opposing team’s try line. Wheelchair Rugby was first recognised as a full medal sport at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia and has since been an integral part of the Paralympic and Invictus Games.
David Pond, Chief Executive of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, added: ‘GBWR is really excited that we can stage this tournament in Leicester. It’s critical that we play the top teams in the world if we are to be medal contenders at the World Championships in the summer. Leicester has been an important training venue for us and with Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby in the city we are hoping for lots of support for GB.’
The King Power Wheelchair Rugby Quad Nations tournament will take place 9th – 11th March 2018 at the Leicester Arena with daytime and evening sessions over 3 days.
Tickets start at just £5 with special offers available for groups and families. Tickets are available from www.wrquadnations.com along with a full match schedule.
Keep up to date on social media @wrquadnations and facebook.com/wrquadnations