Welshpool ace gold eyes paralympic
By Paul Martin, Sportsbeat
Jim Roberts has vowed to ‘finish off’ as he seeks to deliver a fairytale final to a stellar wheelchair rugby career with gold in Tokyo.
Born and raised in Welshpool, the 33-year-old will leave the sport at the end of the Games to pursue a career in architecture which he currently balances with training commitments at Lilleshall in Shropshire.
His decision draws the curtain on a career that has included three European titles, including two since a fifth-place finish at the Paralympic Games in Rio five years ago.
Having been named to the 12-member squad in hopes of deepening the competition this time around, Jim is determined to make the most of his latest shot at the ultimate price of the sport.
“It would be huge,” said Roberts, one of more than 1,000 athletes in the World Class program funded by UK Sport’s national lottery.
“I’m definitely aiming for gold – I’m not someone who wakes up and wants to get money, it’s not in my psyche.
“I’m going there to win it and it would be nice to come away with it. It’s been a tough year for everyone and while I’m sure there will be a lot of people who will want to raise their hands and win this gold medal, I will do my best to bring it back.
“The postponement was difficult. I knew this would be my last Paralympic Games, so having to work for more than an extra year was not easy, but the team really got on with it.
“We’ve done a lot of work over the past four years and now we just want to get the job done.
“I want to finish in style. I’m not the type to dwell on what has been, I look to the future and the next steps in my life.
Roberts and his teammates are able to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches, and benefit from cutting-edge technology, science and medical support through the World Class program funded by UK National Lottery – and have a golden chance to settle some old scores this summer.
After being propelled to the semifinals by Canada in 2016, the two nations will face off once again in the group stage in Tokyo and Roberts is hopeful his fourth-seeded team will have learned their lessons.
“The core of the team is very similar to five years ago when it was the first time at the Games for many of us,” said Roberts, who hopes to add to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won by the Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997.
“We were definitely in a good position to qualify for a semi-final, but Canada wanted more that day and they were successful in overtime. We have them in our group this time around, so hopefully we’ll return the favor.
“We all thought we could have done a little better in Rio, but I don’t think there is any unfinished business. We definitely parked this and moved on.
“These will be the Games in themselves and we have no hard feelings – we will focus fully.”
Who is Jim Roberts?
Jim was a successful Welsh long-distance runner when he contracted bacterial meningitis while a student at Coventry University. This resulted in an extended hospital stay and the amputation of both of her legs. A nurse who supported his rehabilitation introduced him to the sport of wheelchair rugby and Jim quickly became an influential force in the game.
After leaving the hospital in 2010, Jim returned to his studies and obtained an Honors BA in Architectural Design. He was selected for the development team in 2012 and made his UK debut in 2013 at the European Championships. Jim has played both sides of the Atlantic – for the Phoenix Heat in the winter and London WRC in the summer – winning national honors for both teams and earning recognition as MVP at the US Nationals in 2015.
At the European Championships in September 2015, Jim received the Best in Class award, winning the winning goal of reclaiming the European title after 8 years and securing an automatic qualification for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
Following his performance at the Paralympic Games in Rio in September 2016, Jim was recognized by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) as a player to watch in 2017. Jim again received the Best in Class award at the 2017 Europeans , after the team successfully defended and retained their European title.
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