By wheelchair basketball player and Paralympic hopeful Lee Manning:
For those of you who read my last blog, you'll know that my club Sheffield Steelers recently qualified for the Challenge Cup. This is a big European tournament consisting of some of the best teams in Europe. In terms of football, think the Europa cup - so it's not quite the Champions League but there's always next year for that!
We fly out for the Challenge Cup next week, so I'll let you know how it goes in my next blog post. In the meantime, here are some Questions and Answers with my thoughts on wheelchair basketball and disabled sport:
What has been your greatest achievement this season?
I think it has to be qualifying for the Challenge Cup, so hopefully next week I can change this to winning the Challenge Cup :)
What's it been like having to be the main player this season because of other people being out with injuries?
It's definitely been different - I feel a certain sense of responsibility to always perform and not let my teammates down. From a personal development point of view this has been great - I've had to grow as a player and step up as I had no other choice.
What's it like playing at such a high level?
Hard work! There are no days off - every day you take a break is another day your competition is getting better than you.
Have you enjoyed the season?
YES! I've loved every minute of it.
Do you think you could play in the Paralympics? What drives you to follow that dream?
Yes, definitely. That's something I've learned this year - if you don't believe you can do it, you never will! Having said that, confidence can only get you so far. I'm really motivated by the fact that I want to become the best. Being good isn't enough - I want to be great. There's also the fact that it's a team sport and if you're not trying your best, you're potentially letting down all your team mates and people who have invested time and effort in you.
Why do you think people should watch wheelchair basketball?
I think that wheelchair basketball is one of the best sports full stop, not just the best disabled sport. It's physical, fast paced and action packed. In wheelchair basketball, people dive after loose balls, calve their way into the key and tilt onto one wheel to gain extra height to shoot or block a shot, just like you would jump in basketball.
It's also the most inclusive disabled sport, as the points classification allows people with different disabilities to play together. This creates an added strategic element to the game of how to get the best balance in your team.
Could you ever see yourself playing anything else?
I'm completely in love with basketball - if I'm not playing I'm watching - so I'm fairly sure I'll always be doing basketball in one way or another. But I've always been interested in trying sledge hockey (the Paralympic version of ice hockey).
Has your disability ever had a negative effect on you playing basketball?
No, I think for me it has always been a positive thing. In wheelchair basketball, disability isn't an issue - it's so much the norm that I don't really see people as being disabled.
Would you encourage more young people to get into disabled sport?
Yes, definitely - for the reasons I've just mentioned. It's an environment in which you can gain confidence and self-belief. You're surrounded by people who just get on with things and do things you never thought possible - it's so inspiring.