A Tale of Two Tournaments by Joshua Gardner

josh-garner-england-northI  am Josh Gardner, I am 17 and I am from Halton, East Leeds. When I was 9,  I contracted a rare virus called Transverse Myelitis, this is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation on the spinal cord. I use a wheelchair full-time every   day and have done since then, but this has not stopped me. I play wheelchair  basketball for Leeds Spiders, Yorkshire and most recently England North. I also play wheelchair tag rugby for Leeds Rhinos and Ireland..

In my last article earlier in the year I wrote about how I had my first Boccia tournament and finished 3rd.  Since then I was invited to a GB Boccia selection event for the European Championships. Before they could pick a team GB had to get me classified internationally, after been looked at by the classifier and after the selection camp, they told me the disappointing news that according to the classifier I am ” Not disabled enough to play the sport”. I was left very disappointed and horrified that I was told this. I have since asked for the classification report and had no response.

After that news I concentrated on rugby and basketball. I had been successfully picked to play for Ireland in the Wheelchair Rugby World Cup and also to play for Yorkshire in the National Junior Basketball Championships and also to play England North in the UK School Games 2013.

Before these tournaments I had my basketball season to finish, I play for the Leeds Spiders and also coach the under 15 team.  With the great coaching I’ve received I feel like my play has improved a lot in the last season and I’ve doubled my points scored.  It’s also nice to be able to pass on this coaching and as the coach of the under 15 team I was proud as they battled their way to the playoffs which made us the 3rd best team in the UK.

Also at the playoff, I was shocked to find out I had won The Jean Ratcliff Outstanding Achievers Award 2013 for all the things I have achieved in sport and disability awareness in my life so far.

Anyway back to the Tournaments. First up was the Wheelchair Tag Rugby World Cup, this was held in Medway for two weeks in July 2013. I played and was vice captain for Ireland, in all we played four games won two and lost two finishing the 5th best team in the World. I got on the score sheet a few times including 6 points (one try and one conversion) against Scotland. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to compete in an international tournament and I gained a lot of experience competing at such a high level.

Next up was the National Junior Wheelchair Basketball Championships where I represented Yorkshire under 19’s. This was my 3rd year playing at the under 19’s level and this year saw a very new and changed Yorkshire side.  We had an amazing opening day winning our first two games convincingly and the second day saw us win and lose our remaining group games. We then played our quarter final game against Northern Ireland, It was an incredible game what saw us lose by two points.In the end we finished 5th and hope to improve for next time. I still have the UK School Games to look forward to later in the year at Sheffield Arena.

Find out more about Leeds Spiders at www.leedspiders.org.uk Also follow Josh on  Twitter @spiders14josh.

3 Comments

  1. Not disabled enough to play the sport. Probably an assessment by someone who has never played the sport.

  2. Never mind Josh f**k ’em, stick with the rugby & basketball, it’s Boccia’s loss.

  3. Disabled with Attitude. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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