New GB challenge for wheelchair rugby player Gavin Walker

A PARAYLYMPIC athlete from Rotherham who has competed around the world has more international honours coming his way.

Gavin Walker has been selected to represent the GB team in the King Power Quad Nations wheelchair rugby tournament as vice-captain.

The former firefighter and father of two was introduced to wheelchair rugby while in rehab at the Sheffield Spinal Unit after an accident when he slipped on wet decking nine years ago.

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Wheelchair rugby has helped give Gavin a new lease of life and three years ago he represented his country at the Paralymic Games in Rio.

Last year Gavin played in the inaugural Quad Nations Event and is thrilled to have a second chance to take the title from current champions Japan.

Gavin and his team-mates will also be locking horns with Canada and France at the tournament at Leicester's Morningside Arena from March 1-3.

He said: “I am incredibly proud to be helping in leading the team into this tournament once again and I do believe we have a strong chance of winning.

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“We have been playing together closely for months now and training hard, so are keen to make sure we take home the trophy for our country.”

The call-up is another step on the journey for Gavin, who attended his first training session in 2011 and showed enough talent to be selected for the Development Squad shortly aferwards.

In 2013 he made the national squad and became a full-time athlete, competing in his first major at the European Championships in Antwerp in 2013 and returning to Rotherham with a bronze medal.

Gavin went on to compete in the World Championships in Denmark in 2014 and the following year was appointed GB's vice-captain, working alongside new captain Chris Ryan.

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Players compete in specially-designed manual wheelchairs and must meet a minimum disability criterion, classifiable under the sport classification rules. Reigning King Power Quad Nations champions Japan won the gold medal at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships in Sydney last summer. Canada are ranked fourth in the world and France seventh.

The tournament marks an important performance opportunity for Gavin and the GB team ahead of the 2019 European Championships in Denmark, where they will defend their title, and the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge which will be played alongside the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo in October and involve the top eight teams in the world.

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