A Paralympic athlete from Rotherham who has competed around the world has once again been selected to represent Team GB in the King Power Quad Nations wheelchair rugby tournament as Vice-Captain.
The former Firefighter and father of two, Gavin Walker will be once again representing his country to play against Japan, Canada and France at the beginning of March.
Gavin, a Leicester Tiger’s player, was introduced to wheelchair rugby while in rehab at the Sheffield Spinal Unit having had an accident when he broke his neck slipping on wet decking nine years ago.
The 35-year-old attended his first training session in 2011 at the Marauders club and was then selected to the Development Squad in 2011/2012.
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 2019.
Last year he played in the inaugural Quad Nations Event held in Leicester and has said he is thrilled to be back again for a second chance to take the title from current champions Japan.
“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 this year. We have been playing together closely for months now and training hard on the run-up to March’s event, so are keen to make sure we take home the trophy for our country,” he said.
Fast-paced and violent, players compete in specially-designed, manual wheelchairs and must meet a minimum disability criterion, classifiable under the sport classification rules. All competing athletes were either born with physical disabilities, or have suffered illness which has affected their mobility, or else experienced life-changing injuries through accidents, including those serving in the armed forces.
Described by spectators and sports commentators as brutal, the supercharged tournament will be held at Leicester’s Morningside Arena between Friday 1st March and Sunday 3rd March, bringing together three incredible days of the world’s best ‘Murderball’ teams for this intense, elite-standard competition.
Competing, Great Britain will be up against Japan, who won the Gold medal at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships held in Sydney last summer; Canada who is currently ranked 4th in the world and France ranked 7th.
The tournament marks an important performance opportunity for Great Britain ahead of the 2019 European Championships in Denmark where Team GB will defend their title, and ahead of 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.
David Pond, Chief Executive Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby added: “We are looking forward to playing some of the best teams in the world here in Leicester and the tournament is an important step on our way to Tokyo. A big thank you to our title sponsor King Power and to the many businesses who are also supporting the event. We really do feel at home in this great sporting city.”