2012 Paralympics dream edges closer for volleyball star Wiggs

Emma Wiggs is confident the GB sitting volleyball team will be selected for the Paralympics
Emma Wiggs is confident the GB sitting volleyball team will be selected for the Paralympics

EMMA WIGGS is just weeks away from learning whether she will be starring at this year’s Paralympics in London.

Paralympics GB is due to decide in March whether the home nation’s sitting volleyball squad have done enough to warrant a place among the best teams in the world at the 2012 Games.

Wiggs, a PE teacher at The Regis School in Bognor, who has captained the side at a number of international tournaments, is confident they will get the go-ahead and the big countdown can really begin.

“We have been given extra times to prove we’re worth a spot and it will be based on team performances, team progress and personal progress, and we believe we have shown a lot of improvement over time as individuals and a squad,” said 31-year-old Wiggs.

“If we get in we will be up against the best in the world – we already know China, the USA, Brazil, Ukraine, Holland and Russia will be there – but with a 10,000 home crowd behind us we’re confident we could put on a good show.”

Wiggs said a medal was unlikely for GB but still something the squad would set out to achieve.

They came sixth in the Continental Cup in Ukraine in September and seventh in the Europeans a month later.

She has now gone part-time at The Regis School, where her 2012 involvement has caught the imagination of pupils, so she can spend 30-plus hours a week training with the GB squad at Roehampton on the outskirts of London.

“Everyone at the school has been incredibly supportive. I’m now an ambassador for the Games for the pupils, some of whom have been selected to help at the Games. I’m hoping they might be in the arena when I’m playing,” Wiggs said.

“One of our roles as a squad is to get round to schools and groups talking to them about the Paralympics and disabled sport.

“This is a chance like never before to show the country how many sporting opportunities there are for disabled people.”

Sitting volleyball – a form of volleyball for people with disabilities which can also be played by able-bodied people – is relatively new in this country but is catching on fast and as a result, the pool of players is growing too.

Wiggs said: “We’ve a squad of 16 to 18 now. Eleven will go to London 2012 and I’m hopeful I’ll be in that 11 and in the starting six.”

Competition takes place in London’s Excel Centre – which will also be heavily used for the Olympics themselves – between August 31 and September 9. Much of the action will be shown live on Channel 4.

Before then, the squad play in the Inter-Continental Cup in Egypt, a last chance to impress before they decide on our Paralympics spot, then the Continental Cup in Ukraine in April.

Tickets for the sitting volleyball are still up for grabs – see www.tickets.london2012.com to find out about availability.