Paralympics-Caroline Maclean is optimistic of ending GB’s bronze age

Haverhill wheelchair basketball player Caroline Maclean believes Great Britain are more than capable of bringing an end to their European bronze age – and with London 2012 just a year away, she thinks there’s no time like the present.

Caroline Maclean in action for Great Britain

The 36-year-old is set to compete in her fourth Paralympics in the capital next year, hoping to be part of the first-ever female wheelchair basketball team to win a medal at the Games.

Before that, Maclean and her team-mates will head to Israel in September for the European Championships, where Great Britain will hope to finally bring an end to their run of bronze medals — finishing in third place at six of the last seven competitions.

Maclean has been involved in all but one of those teams and with next week’s BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester acting as the perfect preparation, she’s convinced GB can be finalists in Nazareth.

“We’ve definitely got an aim for the European Championships this summer and that’s to get into the final,” said Maclean.

“I think I’ve got five bronze medals from all the European Championships I’ve been to and so, especially a year before the London 2012 Paralympics, I’d love go one better this time.

“I think it’s possible, we’ve got quite a lot of youngsters in our squad, but they will get more on-court experience at the Paralympic World Cup and so hopefully we can reach the final.

“We’ve been going for youth a lot since Beijing and there are only a couple of more senior players but hopefully they will be ready for London next year.

“It’s coming around so quickly and I think for one or two of them London 2012 will be about experience but I still think we’re capable of getting the medal that we so desperately want.”

In Manchester, Great Britain will lock horns with Japan and five-time defending European champions Germany, as well as Canada, at the largest international multi-sport disability event leading up to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Germany will provide the acid test but Japan will be a true gauge of GB’s progress, having been eliminated by them at the Beijing 2008 quarter-final stage, only to exact revenge at the World Championships last year.

“Japan will be a really big game for us because it will show us where we are and how far we’ve come,” added Maclean.

“Germany will be very hard because they’re such a strong team but Japan should be a close game. Hopefully with a strong home support we can win it.”

The BT Paralympic World Cup is taking place in Manchester from Monday, May 23, to Saturday, May 28, with elite international athletes competing in swimming, athletics and wheelchair basketball.

Go to www.btparalympicworldcup.com for tickets and more information.

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