From the Maidenhead Advertiser
Maidenhead sitting volleyball player Justin Phillips may have seen his Great Britain side sink to defeat to the Netherlands at the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester – but he still believes he can declare a case of job well done.
Phillips and company made a flying start to their one-off exhibition match in Manchester, as the Paralympic World Cup played host to sitting volleyball for the first time, but despite taking the first set, the Dutch took the next three to secure a 3-1 victory.
Great Britain will now turn their attentions to July’s Continental Cup where some of the world’s finest teams – including Paralympic silver medallists Bosnia – will descent on Kettering while in October, GB will head to Rotterdam for the European Championships.
Automatic qualification for London 2012 must be achieved by the end of the European Championships and while it’s not out of the question, it’s more likely Great Britain will rely on a home nations spot – granted at the discretion of the British Paralympic Association.
In order to be successful, Great Britain must demonstrate that at London 2012 they will achieve a credible performance and 20-year-old Phillips believes that despite defeat to the Netherlands, he and his teammates proved that is within their reach.
“At the start we played really well and some structured volleyball but it went a bit downhill from there and the team got a bit down at the start of the second and third sets,” said Phillips, who attended Cox Green School.
“It was good experience for us, we showed the crowd that it’s a sport to be enjoyed and hopefully we showed the necessary people that we’re worth a place at London 2012 and that we can be competitive against the best in the world.
“We want to show them that sitting volleyball is a future sport that the public can really support us in at 2012 and 2016 – it’s an excellent sport and anyone who is disabled should come along and enjoy.
“It’s amazing to be competing in front of hundreds of people because not that long ago we competing in front of two or three people – it’s great to see how far it has come and hopefully it will keep going.”
With the vast majority of the world’s best teams coming to the Midlands this summer, Phillips is the first to admit that the competition in Kettering will arguably be harder than at London 2012.
But Phillips is convinced Great Britain can achieve a top-eight finish which would leave the BPA in little doubt as to the sitting volleyball side’s potential.
“It’s all about getting experience against teams like this and I think that we’ve done that,” he added.
“We know that we can improve but hopefully compete against the top eight in the world – at the Continental Cup we want to finish in the top eight and then move on to London 2012.
“I’m very confident that we will get the nod and we’ve shown that we can compete against teams in the top 12 in the world.”Tags: British Paralympic Association, European Championships, Justin Phillips, London 2012, Paralympic World Cup, sitting volleyball