15 May 2008

ParalympicsGB today named Cardiff’s Caroline Matthews and Clare Strange - who hails from Newport - as part of the British women’s wheelchair basketball team for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

Thirty-five year-old Matthews, who combines work as a lawyer with training for her sport, made her Paralympic debut in Athens four year’s ago.

She said: "Being part of the Great Britain women’s wheelchair basketball team is always an honour – but being selected to represent your country at the Paralympic Games is just amazing. I am so excited to be going to my second Paralympics.

"There is a lot of hard work to be done between now and that opening ceremony and I can’t wait to get stuck in. It’s always tough to balance working full time with the need to train like a full time athlete and this year will be tougher then ever – but I am looking forward to the challenge and the rare opportunity to play against the best ballers in the world.

"The Beijing preparations look fantastic and I am sure that this tournament will be an even bigger and more successful event than the Athens 2004 Games.

"The GB women’s team has undergone a massive amount of change since our last Paralympic outing – including new players, a new coach and staff and an entirely new training regime – which has seen huge improvements in individual performances over the past few months.

"We have a number of international tournaments ahead of us over the next few months, including one domestic tournament in my home town of Cardiff, which will see us get ‘match ready’ before arriving at the Paralympics."

The women’s squad for Beijing also features Clare Strange who is based in High Wycombe.

Women’s team Head Coach Garry Peel said: "This is a great selection.

"With four athletes in the squad making their Games debuts in Beijing, there is a good mix of experience and fresh talent and if they put the effort in with training and play to their abilities then we should reach our aim of finishing within the top six.

"I’m comfortable and confident that we have a good team now and over the last four years they’ve really come together as a unit, rather than a group of individual players."

ParalympicsGB Chief Executive Phil Lane, said: "ParalympicsGB is delighted to be able to confirm the selection of the wheelchair basketball teams for Beijing.

"Having just returned from the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, where many of these athletes put in top performances to win silver and bronze for GB – both teams have demonstrated they have the potential to hold their own among top teams.

"Both teams have fairly new, yet exciting, coaching and staff set-ups, ones that we believe can help deliver the best prepared British wheelchair basketball teams ever to the Games and we look forward to seeing them better their achievements in Athens four years ago, in China this summer."

The Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games opens on September 6 and closes on September 17. The wheelchair basketball events at the Games take place at the University of Science and Technology Gymnasium before the finals at the National Indoor Stadium.

The competition for the wheelchair basketball gets under way on September 7 with the finals scheduled for September 16. Britain’s men face hosts China in their opening game, followed by Australia, USA, Brazil and Israel. Britain’s women meanwhile come up against Australia in their opening game before facing Brazil, USA and Germany in the rest of their pool games.

At the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, Britain finished second in the medal table with a total of 35 golds, 30 silver and 29 bronze medals. With competitive standards continually rising and the dominant Chinese team taking the home advantage ParalympicsGB recognises that the 2008 Paralympics will be one of its biggest challenges yet.