Emma Wiggs is weeks away from realising her Paralympic dream after overcoming an injury scare and countless other hurdles.
The 32-year-old from Chichester has told of her relief at being confirmed as a member of the GB sitting volleyball team who have secured a place at the Games just two years after being formed.
The former Regis School PE teacher said a shoulder injury sustained earlier in the year had put her Paralympics place in doubt but intensive physiotherapy got her on course and now she has been told: “You’re in.”
Family and friends of the former University of Chichester student have been clamouring for tickets for the GB’s pool games against Ukraine, the Netherlands and Japan which will be played in front of crowds of 10,000 at London’s Excel Centre, with the first one on August 31.
Wiggs said: “Although I’ve been on course to be in the squad for a long time, you can never, ever assume anything in sport. I had the shoulder injury and I had to prove I was over it.
“I had the injury after a tournament in Egypt in March and needed two injections and months of rehab. I couldn’t even wheel my wheelchair at one stage. But it’s behind me now.
“It’s an incredible feeling to know I’ve been selected and will be part of it. It’s mind-blowing. For a while it’s a case of ‘goodbye family and friends, hello Paralympics’ but that’s a price worth paying.”
The sitting volleyball squad are now at their preparation camp at Loughborough where other British athletes are also based.
“There’s a lot of Team GB tracksuits walking around,” said Wiggs.
“It’s pretty intensive now - we’re doing everything from training to psychologoy. And we’re still involved in tournaments all over the place that are acting as great warm-up events.”
When it comes to the Games, GB – as a relatively new team in the sport – are not expected to medal but Wiggs said that wouldn’t stop the team trying to prove the predictions wrong.
“There are two pools of four and after your three pool games, you either go into a group of playing playing for the three medal positions or another which will decide fifth to eighth place.
“We’re probably expected to win one pool game but if we can win two, we will suddenly find ourselves playing for bronze. China and the USA are the favourites for the gold.”
Wiggs thanked the many people in West Sussex who had sent her their best wishes, especially those at The Regis School, where she had to give up teaching in March to concentrate on her volleyball.
Follow Emma Wiggs’ Paralympics adventure in the Observer and at www.bognor.co.uk