WHEELCHAIR basketball star bidding to take Rio’s Paralympic Games by storm

“Very proud” former Ayrshire Post delivery girl and wheelchair basketball star Robyn Love is hoping her team can inspire at the Rio Paralymic games, writes Angus Cochrane.

The ex-Kyle Academy pupil, the first Scottish person to be selected for the Paralympic basketball team since 2000, plays her first game on September 8.

Robyn has experienced something of a meteoric rise to sporting prominence, having only taken up the sport three years previously.

In accounting for her rapid ascension, the Edinburgh Napier University graduate emphasised the role that the 2012 London Paralympics played.

She explained: “When I first sat in the chair three years ago, I had no idea where it would take me. I first saw wheelchair basketball in the 2012 Paralympics and I was in awe.

“I had no idea that parasport existed and here were strong, talented and skilled athletes with disabilities on my TV.

“I remember thinking, ‘this is what I want to do’.

“A year later I decided to do something about it and contacted Tina Gordon, the Basketball Scotland wheelchair basketball development officer to give it a go. A week later, I was in love and my journey began.”

As well as inspiration from London 2012, Robyn highlighted the sacrifices that were required to make it to Rio.

She said: “In the summer of 2015 I made one of the most important decisions in achieving my goal and moved to Worcester, committing myself to full-time training with Team GB. In that summer I was selected for my first senior major tournament and we won bronze.”

The third-place finish at the European Championships qualified Britain for the Rio games and the Ayrshire native is confident that Team GB can replicate their European success despite facing stiff competition.

She said: “Myself and the squad have been working hard on and off the court, training 23-plus hours a week, pushing ourselves physically and mentally.

“Currently, we are the fifth-ranked team in the world and our aim is to beat that. We are aiming to reach the semi-finals. To do this we will need to play well in all of our pool games where our main competitors are the former Paralympic champions Germany and the world No.1s Canada.”

As if a trip to the Paralympics was not special enough, Robyn is also set to celebrate her 26th birthday while in Rio.

However, plans to sample the Brazilian nightlife will have to be put on hold as she focuses on the basketball.

She said: “I think it will be an evening of old-school monopoly and pictionary with a cup of tea, which is probably how I would have spent it at home anyway. Fortunately I have planned ahead and already had mini-celebrations at home with my family and partner.

“I am lucky to be able to spend my birthday in an amazing country with my team-mates representing GB, much better than a night out on the town.

Most of all she hopes her team’s exploits can inspire others to get involved in parasports as the 2012 team did for her.

She said: “I hope people will watch the games, read the incredible news stories and be inspired to try something new.

“The London legacy has certainly had a major impact on my life – I hope Rio inspires people and there will be even more athletes competing for a ticket to Tokyo.”