A teacher from a Leicestershire elementary school is expected to represent the GB team at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Lucy Robinson is the youngest member of the senior women’s wheelchair basketball team and says she didn’t expect to be selected this year despite her athletic background.
The 22-year-old started playing wheelchair basketball in her early teens, but her first athletic ambition was to play soccer.
From a young age, Lucy from Mountsorrel, near Loughborough, was a promising footballer who dreamed of success, but a life-changing accident changed everything.
While rollerblading, Lucy fell and broke her hip, leaving her with long-term hip disease, avascular necrosis.
Even though she was only 12 at the time, she remembered knowing something was wrong.
“It was pretty scary because I was an accident prone kid, I had broken my wrist a few times before and thought it would be the same this time around,” she told LeicestershireLive. “But I couldn’t get up.”
Lucy had to have an external fixer for several months while she recovered and was told she could no longer play football.
But nothing would stop a young and determined Lucy from getting back into the sport.
She tried archery but missed the team element of football, so she switched to wheelchair basketball.
After attending a ‘come and try’ event hosted by the Leicester Cobras club, his heart turned to the game.
“It was pretty amazing being in a gym surrounded by people with disabilities of all ages and abilities,” she said.
“Limping slowed me down, but watching how fast people could go in wheelchairs was amazing.
“We were all equal there.”
Lucy spent the session talking to people from all walks of life about the game, becoming more and more interested in the game.
“I met a man who had both legs torn off and lost an eye while serving in Afghanistan – he was really an inspiration,” she said.
Soon after, she began training with the team and became a member of the Cobra Women’s League team.
She continued to develop through the British Wheelchair Basketball (BWB) course, being one of the first athletes to join her advanced apprenticeship in excellent sport in 2015.
A year later, she was invited to participate in the GB Futures Program before being called to the GB Women’s junior program.
In 2018, Lucy finished as co-top scorer in the final of the U24 European Championships where the GB team won gold.
The team won bronze at the U25 World Championships the following year in Thailand.
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Along with her training, Lucy also juggled a teaching degree at Sheffield Hallam University.
She graduated from elementary school last year, earning a top grade and even had time to work as a substitute teacher between her athletic engagements.
After attending her first overseas training camp in January 2020, Lucy will now make her Paralympic Games debut.
“I had to make a Zoom call to find out if I was successful,” she said. “I had already written my ‘thank you for this opportunity’ speech.”
Prior to the May call, she had told her friends and family to assume she hadn’t been selected – but when the call came in she was “shocked.”
“I just couldn’t believe it – I was like ‘oh my god this is really happening’,” she said.
Lucy will leave for Tokyo with the rest of the senior women’s squad on August 19.
“I really think I have proven myself and it is an honor to be part of the team.
“My family and friends have been very supportive of me too – they are very excited,” she told LeicestershireLive.
Lucy’s family have all purchased GB team jerseys with their player numbers ahead of the Paralympic Games which begin on August 24.
She said: “It took me years to get to this, but for me, this is just the start of my journey.”