FRANCE and Great Britain have never enjoyed the friendliest of sporting rivalries, and if Barnsley wheelchair basketballer Ian Sagar has his way, the BT Paralympic World Cup will only add to the drama.
The 29-year-old is part of a 12-strong squad heading to Manchester for next week’s competition looking to defend their title against Paralympic silver medallists Canada, World silver medallists France and Brazil.
And although Canada is likely to pose the biggest threat to Great Britain’s crown, it is France Sagar and co. have their sights on after they surprisingly ended their World Championship bid last year in the quarter-finals.
“The Paralympic World Cup is a great competition and it will be a good test for us against up-and-coming Brazil as well as renowned nations like France and Canada,” said former Kirk Balk School pupil Sagar.
“Canada won silver at the Worlds but I know that everyone will be trying their hardest against France to get one over them.
“There is a bit of revenge on the cards for the French as everyone will have that quarter-final in their mind when we play against them.
“The World Championships on a whole were a good tournament for us, we won seven and only lost one but that was the worse one to lose.
“So we are all gunning for France and I would tell them to watch out because we want to beat them so badly.”
Great Britain’s wheelchair basketballer stars will have little time to rest when the dust settles in Manchester, turning their attentions to the European Championships this September in Israel.
And with London 2012 right around the corner too, Sagar has no doubt that his Paralympic journey starts now.
“This is where the road to London 2012 starts for us, at the Paralympic World Cup, and we need to lay down a marker ahead of the Europeans,” he added.
“I have fond memories of the Paralympic World Cup because last year’s gold was the first gold I had ever won and I would love to build on that this year.
“We want to be in our best form as quickly as possible for the London Paralympics and the Europeans will be a big part of that which means we must start with the Paralympic World Cup.”
n The BT Paralympic World Cup is in Manchester from May 23-28 with elite internationals competing in swimming, athletics and wheelchair basketball. Go to www.btparalympicworldcup.com for tickets and more information.Tags: Ian Sugar, Paralympic World Cup, wheelchair basketball, World Championships