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PARALYMPIANS PREPARE FOR LANDMARK EVENT

10 May 2005

BASKETBALL - AMAECHI CENTRE

12TH- 15TH MAY

A trio of Welsh girls will be heading to Manchester with a wealth of Paralympic Games experience behind them. The three form part of the GB team battling it out for a top placing at the Paralympic World Cup.

The GB women will be up against the world’s elite of wheelchair basketball, including teams from France, Sweden and Spain.

CLAIRE STRANGE

The 25 year old disability sport project officer - originally from Newport - now lives in Buckinghamshire and plays for the Milton Keynes Aces.

Claire developed a taste for her sport as a part of her rehabilitation process following a horse riding accident in 1997. One year later she was jetting off to Sydney as part of the GB wheelchair team to compete at the World Championships.

Claire modestly claims that her "stubbornness and sheer bloody mindedness to take on challenges" has got her to where she is today."

CAROLINE MATTHEWS

Cardiff’s Caroline Matthew played able bodied National League basketball whilst living in Cornwall for the Plymouth Racers and then for Cardiff University. She represented Welsh Universities for two years at the BUSA tournament and received full honours from the Athletics Union for Basketball.

When she was 12 years old, Caroline found it increasingly difficult to continue the running game due to the escalating pain in her knee joints. Caroline was diagnosed with severe arthritis in both knees in 1999 and gave up the sport she loved so much.

She developed a short-lived passion for sledge hockey with the Cardiff Huskies before re-discovering her love for the game while watching television coverage of the Sydney Paralympics.

The snippets of the wheelchair basketball event inspired Caroline to join a Bristol based club in the 2001/2002 season. She played an integral role in the second division team’s title win but decided to broaden her horizons in the 2002/2003 season by joining London based division one team, ‘Force‘.

Here, Caroline played for the first division, second division and women’s league teams winning several titles along the way. She remains a Force member to this day. Caroline was selected for the GB wheelchair basketball squad after only six months on court.

Her first International experience came at the World Championships in Japan in 2002. She also played in the European Championships in Hamburg, March 2003, where Team GB qualified for the Athens Paralympics by winning the bronze medal.