When Ben Rowlings lines up on the startline in Ri

first_imgWhen Ben Rowlings lines up on the start-line in Rio, he will know that he could not have done anything more to prepare himself for his bid to win a medal.The wheelchair racer, who is taking part in his first Paralympic Games at the age of 20 – only five years after being spotted at a British Athletics talent identification day – describes himself as stubborn, single-minded and “quite selfish”.“I think a lot of athletes have to be quite selfish, and just kind of look after themselves and make sure nothing impacts on their training or the bubble that they are in,” he says.“But I’m hard-working and I make sure that I put the hours in in training, and the results are showing on the track.”He has been doing “long, hard sessions” in the gym, two or three times a day, six days a week, and believes there are “very few” of his competitors who will have been able to match that.But he has also benefited from the peer support he has received as part of the training group set up by ParalympicsGB team-mate Mel Nicholls and her coach, which is based at their athletics club, Coventry Godiva Harriers.A mixture of disabled children, professional athletes – including fellow Paralympian Kare Adenegan – and enthusiastic amateurs come together in the group.Nicholls has previously told Disability News Service (DNS) that Paralympic athletes train within the group alongside everyone else. “It’s a social thing, it’s a confidence thing, a health thing and a competitive thing as well,” she said.Rowlings told DNS this week: “We have got people aged six or seven up to guys that are mid-to-late 40s.“It’s good to have a varied group of people because if you’re having a bad day in training, one of the little kids will make you laugh… it just kind of takes your mind off the serious side of training a little bit, [and allows you to] enjoy it and take it for what it is.”The importance of support for Paralympic athletes – a long way from the Channel 4-inspired “superhuman” image – is one he is only too willing to accept.He says: “I’ve got the easy job. I have to go round in circles, I get the fun bit of it, but without the support of coaches, sponsors, family, friends; without those people behind me I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today.“I wouldn’t have gone to the world championships, I wouldn’t have medalled at European championships. Without them, I wouldn’t be anywhere.“I’m very fortunate that I’ve got a good support network around me.”It’s not only the support of the higher-profile organisations – sponsors BT and Top End, which makes his wheelchairs, and his National Lottery funding – which has been “fundamental” to his success, but smaller organisations, such as The Wrekin Housing Trust, that he says has helped with £100 towards his costs.“A hundred quid is a set of tyres or it’s a set of gloves or it’s a week training in Loughborough with a really good group [of other athletes].”Rowlings is competing in Rio in the T34 100 metres and 800 metres, but it is in the two-lap event that he has the strongest chance of medalling.Ranked in the top four or five in the world at 800 metres, and holder of the British record at 100, 200, 400 and 800 metres, he believes he has a genuine chance of a medal.“I’m in really good shape, the best shape of my life. Everything has been going really well since I found out about selection. “It’ll be a close race, there are four or five guys that will be really competitive going into it, so it will be a good race to be part of.”Although he is competing first in the 100 metres – where he is ranked in the world’s top eight – he is treating that “as a kind of warm-up for the 800”.Ideally, he would be racing in a 400 metres as well but there is only a 100 metres and 800 metres in his impairment category in Rio.“I prefer 400 to 800 just because there’s less to think about,” he says, “you just go as hard as you can for one lap and whoever’s the quickest will get it.“With the 800 you have to think a little bit more. You have to react so quickly if there’s a break off the front, you have to cover it immediately.“If there’s a guy coming off the back you have to make sure you’re in the right position to follow him.”He has known there will be no 400 metres in Rio for the last couple of years, so he’s been able to work on his strategy for the longer race.“It’s something I’ve been able to plan for,” he says. “I know how to race in every single scenario that could possibly come up in Rio, so I’m going to make sure I’m in the best position when that bell goes for the final lap.”Despite his strong chance of a medal, his target is just to reach the final of the two events.“I think once I’m in the final anything could happen,” he says. “Guys could false start, it could be raining, the race could just pan out perfectly for me, or it could pan out horribly.“I know I’m working harder than most of the other guys on the start line, I know I’m in the best shape possible, I know I’ve [taken care of] every little detail I could possibly do going into Rio.”Like many of the ParalympicsGB team, he is careful in his responses to some of the more controversial questions put to him by DNS.On the International Paralympic Committee’s failure to store urine and blood samples from medallists at the Beijing and London Paralympics, so they can be retested in the future, he says: “I have no idea. My job is to go round in circles.“I know I get drug tested, I know that UK Anti-Doping have been really hot on making sure that everyone at Paralympic standard is a clean athlete and I know I’m 100 per cent clean.“As far as what the IPC does with their samples, I have no idea.”On the low number of Paralympic tickets sold by the Brazilian organisers – just 12 per cent, when we spoke at the start of this week – he says that he sees that as an opportunity “to open it up to schools and get a fresh audience in”.He adds: “It’s a Paralympic Games, the biggest competition a lot of us athletes will ever race at, and I think it will be a real step forward for the Paralympic movement if we can get schools and younger spectators [to attend] and show this is what Paralympic sport is, just [as] they did in London.”But he does speak out on one highly controversial topic, the government’s reassessment of working-age disabled people claiming disability living allowance (DLA) for the new personal independence payment.He has been told he will be reassessed next year, and it is something that concerns him, particularly as he uses his DLA mobility support to lease a Motability vehicle.He says: “It is something that’s on my mind because without the access to having my Motability car… I wouldn’t be able to get to any of the training that I do.“I need my car, I need the support to get me around to places, and training and work, because racing is my job, and without the support of the Motability [car] and the DLA, I wouldn’t be able to get to training.”And he says he knows fellow Paralympians have already had their Motability vehicles taken away after being reassessed for PIP.Putting such controversies aside, what he looks forward to most of all in Rio is the racing.“I worked my backside off for four years,” he says. “I’m going to make sure I race it well, being able to show myself on a world stage.“It’s a 400 metre track that I have to go around twice, and I’ve raced the guys all year round, I know them inside and out, I’ve done everything I can in training to make sure I’m ready for that race at Rio, and I’m just going to smash it.”last_img read more

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JONNY Lomax has been speaking about his unbelievab

first_imgJONNY Lomax has been speaking about his unbelievable year – but remains grounded as to what the future may hold.The 20-year-old has made 23 appearances this season after beginning the campaign as a utility player.Now, he’s secured the iconic scrum half position but is under no illusion that it’s his for keeps.“I’m massively enjoying it this year,” he said. “At the beginning of the year I was seen as a utility player. Then I got a chance to play against Leeds and hopefully I took it. Royce has kept faith in me in that position and I am grateful.“When I was amateur, I played at half or full back – but in pivotal positions. I am pretty happy where I am at the minute and I will do as much as I can to stay there.“I didn’t get the chance to play there last season and I think it was because I struggled with communication – telling Jammer to go here and there for example – it was tough. They told me I needed to talk and they would back me; the lads had confidence in me and I had to back myself.“So when I got the chance this season I started calling the plays and they went with me like they said they would. I am grateful they did as it has given me the confidence I needed to grow in the role.“Off the field I am quiet – that’s why I enjoy the role so much because I can get away with it! Jammer told me that it was the only thing holding me back and Leon said the same too. So I took their advice.“I get a lot of good feedback from them – and most of it is banter! They say ‘the old Jonny wouldn’t do this’ but I give as good as I get.”He continued: “Playing with Lee [Gaskell] has been good too, but I don’t know if it is strange or not. We played amateur against each other, together in town teams and scholarship, the academy and at under 21s.“When we got put together we sat down and thought ‘we know how it is, let’s carry on, it’s just a bigger team and bigger stadium… we should try do our own thing’.“We work well as we have a lot of respect for each other. We are grateful that Royce give us the chance to play together and showed a lot of faith in us too.“But we know we both have to improve.”Jonny’s remarkable year was capped when he was called up to the ETS after being named in the England Knights side.“It was huge for me. At the beginning of the year I was seen as a utility and if someone would’ve said I would be playing scrum half for St Helens and part of the ETS too… I would have told them where to go!“I thought I would play about 16-ish games because I did that last year. At the start of the season Royce had me at left centre and I missed pre-season so I felt I was playing catch up. From there to where I am at the minute has well over exceeded expectations.“But I just out my head down and do my job really – I don’t think about the future.“I think week to week and don’t think ahead. It’s whoever we play this week and then I move on to the next week. People talking about me making my debut for England… well, it’s overwhelming really.”last_img read more

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A SCINTILLATING first half display from the Saints

first_imgA SCINTILLATING first half display from the Saints saw them complete an emphatic double over the Giants – emerging 54-6 winners writes Graham Henthorne.Tormentor in chief was standoff Lee Gaskell who was at his imperious best until withdrawn 55 minutes into the contest to go on First Team standby duty. By then he’d amassed 18 points which would have been 22 had he grounded the ball correctly in the second minutes to open the Saints account.As it was that honour was left to Adam Swift who went over in the left corner after a run-around between Nathan Ashe and Danny Yates had put him clear.Ashe then scored himself taking Scott Hale’s inside ball to stride over after Shaun Magennis’ sublime shirt ball had put the big second rower through.Danny Yates’ kicking game was pinning the Giants into their own end. From such a kick the Saints got a repeat set which allowed Yates to send Joe Greenwood over again from a short ball.The Saints were well ahead of the clock at this stage and remained so as Jayden Sanford scored the first of his double. A great tackle had forced the visitors to knock on in their own red zone and from the scrum Gaskell sent a fine miss pass out to the right to send the winger in.Magennis was driving the ball in hard as did sub Aaron McCloskey off the bench and the two combined to put Gaskell half through. He gave it out to Alex Trumper and the centre strolled over.The Giants were their own worst enemies as they couldn’t hold onto the ball for any length of time and from yet another knock on in front of their posts Gaskell ghosted in for the Saints sixth try.The Saints were in complete control at this point, virtually scoring at will and on the stroke of half time quick hands saw Swift in for his second. Gaskell blotted his copybook with his only missed conversion of the half to keep it at a point a minute.It’s never easy to keep concentration and put teams to the sword which is exactly as it transpired. Two missed opportunities in the first two sets of the second period saw the Saints attention slip and gave the Giants a boost.Lewis Foster scored his first at this level finishing the move that he started by jumping out of dummy half. He found debutant Adam Hesketh who took it on to the full back before feeding it back inside to Foster.The second debutant of the day Lewis Charnock, opened his account at this level strolling in at the corner after quick hands gave him the gap and the final try saw Hale put Sandford in for his brace.The more disappointing aspect was the numerous tries missed in the half and the poor tackling which allowed a rather inept Giants outfit to score.These issues will have to be addressed before the visit of the League leading Wolves next week.Best for the Saints overall on the day was Mr Perpetual motion Danny Jones who never seems to tire and is always available in both attack and defence.Match Summary:St Helens:Tries: Nathan Ashe, Lewis Charnock, Adam Swift 2, Alex Trumper, Jayden Sandford 2, Lee Gaskell, Joe Greenwood, Lewis Foster.Goals: Lee Gaskell 7.Huddersfield Giants:Tries: Ben Whitehead.Goals: Jack Miller.Half Time: 40-0 Full Time: 54-6Teams:Saints:1. Nathan Ashe; 2. Jayden Sandford, 4. Alex Trumper, 3. Adam Swift, 5.Lewis Charnock; 6. Lee Gaskell, 7. Danny Yates; 8. Anthony Walker, 9. Marcus Baines, 10. Shaun Magennis, 18. Scott Hale, 12. Joe Greenwood, 13. Danny Jones. Subs: 11. Aaron McCloskey, 14. Lewis Foster, 15. Adam Hesketh, 17. Jordan Case.Huddersfield:1. Freddie Walker; 5. Aaron Nicholson, 4. Joe Fox, 3. Perry Whiteley, 2. Jamie Love; 6. Ben Whitehead, 7. Jack Miller; 8. Joe Walker, 9. Joel Farrell, 10. Ross Peltier, 11. Dale Ferguson, 12. Matty Sarsfield, 13. Jacob Fairbank. Subs: 14. Chris Cullimore, 15. George King, 16. Nathan Mason, 17. Jack Blagborough.last_img read more

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The second rower who joined Saints in the offseas

first_imgThe second rower who joined Saints in the off-season, will link up with his former Club with whom he played for during the previous two seasons.Saints Head Coach Justin Holbrook said, “Joe needs some game-time early in the season and without a reserves competition in place, this is the best way to achieve that.Joe is very familiar with the York set-up and with them playing in the Championship in 2019, this works well for all parties.”last_img

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