Ruddington wheelchair tennis star James Shaw left the country to head to the Rio Paralympic Games today as part of the British Paralympic Association’s (BPA) Paralympic Inspiration Programme.
The 21-year-old is one of three players on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme who will benefit from the initiative. Shaw joins 22-year old Dermot Bailey and 15-year-old Esperanza Merry on the plane to Rio, where Shaw's fellow Nottinghamshire wheelchair tennis player David Phillipson will represent ParalympicsGB for the third time.
Shaw began 2016 world ranked No. 30 and has improved his ranking some 19 places since the start of April after a string of gains at tournaments across Europe this summer. He won his first ITF 2 quad singles title at the Wroclaw Cup in Poland and last month he won his second international doubles title at the Austrian Open, where he was also runner-up in the quad singles to earn a top 20 world ranking for the first time.
Athletes were nominated for the Paralympic Inspiration Programme by the Tennis Foundation based on a number of criteria including being on a performance pathway with an anticipated trajectory for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Shaw said: "It's been a very encouraging summer for me on the court, with some great results against world top 20 ranked players that have resulted in me making my top 20 debut and this is a great way to round of the last few months before returning to training here in Britain and concentrating on my future goals.
“I would like to thank the Tennis Foundation and the BPA for this amazing opportunity. In 2020 I hope to have earned my selection for ParalympicsGB and the experience of being in Rio will be invaluable for me and can only further my appetite to get to the top.”
The programme was first launched for London 2012 and aims to inspire and excite potential Paralympians. During their week in Rio athletes and coaches will experience all aspects of a Paralympics, including the Village, the media spotlight and mixed zone. Athletes will also take part in a curriculum outside the Games and alongside their normal training, with lessons about nutrition, media, anti-doping, competition planning and goal setting