Phoenix players selected for the GB Sledge Team

Tuesday, 10th September 2013

With the sledge hockey League and Play Offs over and the regular EPL season starting, it doesn’t mean sledge hockey is done for the next 8-9 months... far from it! The GB squad looks to book its place in Sochi 2014 at the Paralympics, with their final qualification tournament being held in Turin at the end of October.

The Phoenix will be represented, with our Captain Karl Nicholson and Alternate Captain Anthony Booth being selected in the squad, with Alternate Captain Rob Allen and Netminder Steve Midghall being selected in the reserve squad... not bad for a team that’s played for just over a year!

The official Press Release is below:

The British Sledge Hockey Association (BSHA) has announced today the 14 players who will represent the Great Britain Sledge Hockey team for the Paralympic Qualifiers, to be held in Turin from the 20th to 26th October, to secure a place at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.

GB sledge hockey has not competed at a Paralympic games since Turin in 2006 with a talented team that included London 2012 Paralympic Gold Medallist, Richard Whitehead alongside World Champions Stephen Thomas (sailing) and Nathan Stephens (athletics).

Since missing out on qualifying for the last winter Paralympics in Vancouver in 2010, the BSHA has established a robust development programme and established a national league structure supported by committed stakeholders.

Over the past four years the GB team has risen consistently up the world rankings culminating in winning a bronze medal earlier this year at the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships (Pool B) in Japan.

In order to qualify for the Sochi Winter Paralympics GB must finish third and will be competing against hosts, Italy, as well as Sweden, South Korea, Germany and Japan.

The selected athletes are;

  • Ian Warner (Kingston Kestrels)
  • Gary Farmer (Peterborough Phantoms)
  • Stephen Thomas (Cardiff Devils)
  • Karl Nicholson (Manchester Phoenix)
  • Matthew Coleman (Peterborough Phantoms)
  • Matthew Clarkson (Kingston Kestrels)
  • Robin Gaze (Peterborough Phantoms)
  • Tyler Christopher (Battle Back Bisons)
  • Darren Brown (Peterborough Phantoms)
  • Matthew Woollias (Kingston Kestrels)
  • Bryan Hackworth (Kingston Kestrels)
  • Mark Briggs (Kingston Kestrels)
  • Nathan Stephens (Cardiff Devils)
  • Anthony Booth (Manchester Phoenix)

An additional four non-travelling reserves have also been chosen: Jason Solman (Cardiff Devils), Robert Allen (Manchester Phoenix), Steven Midghall (Manchester Phoenix) and Caroline Bonner, (Coventry Honey Badgers).

There is no shortage of international experience in the squad selected today which contains 12 members of the GB team which won the Bronze medal earlier this year plus seven athletes who have competed in at least one Paralympic Games.

Elite Programme Director John Neville said:

“I’m delighted to welcome such a talented and experienced group of players to the British team for the Paralympic qualifying tournament. The progress that the squad has achieved over the past four years is really impressive and they now have a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate their progress in Turin in October.

“Under Andrew Linton’s leadership, the squad have developed a very fast, skilful and exciting brand of sledge hockey, which has thrilled crowds and earned plaudits around the world over the last few years. We will continue to give Andrew and his squad our full support in the vital final weeks prior to the qualifiers to ensure they have every opportunity to perform to their full potential and go onto compete on the greatest sporting stage of all at the Paralympics.”

Head Coach Andrew Linton commented, “This is the strongest team we’ve put together since my appointment as Head Coach and it couldn’t come at a more important time. All the players in the GB programme have worked extremely hard and we are sure that their dedication on and off ice will reap its rewards in Turin.”

Wish the team good luck! Tweet your good luck messages to @GBSledgeHockey on Twitter or visit the BSHA website at www.sledgehockey.co.uk

Keep an eye on the Website, Forum, Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with how the team and the Phoenix players are fairing in Italy.

And you cant Tweet your messages of support to @MP_Sledgehockey and don’t forget to send them on the Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/ManchesterPhoenixSledgeHockey as well.