Wheelchair basketball star Maddie Thompson is the ultimate team player – prepared to give everything on court and from the bench to help Great Britain’s bid for European glory.
The former Lady Manners School pupil may be only 24 but boasts four European Championship bronze medals and a silver medal from last summer’s historic World Championship campaign.
As the European Championships begin this weekend, with Britain’s first game coming against France on Sunday, the Paralympian is prepared to sacrifice personal glory for a first-ever gold.
“I’m not someone who would start the game, but I aim to come in and bring a lot of energy,” said Thompson ahead of the tournament, running from June 30 to July 7 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
“I’m known for my loud voice and crazy cheering on the court, so I just want to be energetic, support my team and when it’s my time to contribute, that’s my moment.
“Personally, I just want to be really proud of my performance.
“I want to put a medal on my son Zachary, who is two, and show him that’s what his mum achieved.
“My goal is to make him proud and help my team be the best.”
Thompson’s side made history in Hamburg last summer, reaching their first-ever World Championships final, and have secured bronze at the last six continental gatherings.
And as if Britain, who finished fourth at Rio 2016, needed any more motivation, qualification for next year’s Paralympics in Tokyo is up for grabs if they finish in the top four at the six-team event.
In their way will be Germany and the Netherlands, who have remarkably contested the last 14 women’s European Championship finals.
Netherlands are something of a nemesis for Britain, beating them in the World final in 2018 and also in the Paralympic bronze medal match in Rio.
With a full year of training at a centralised programme at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport, Thompson says the Dutch no longer have any psychological hold on Britain.
“The Netherlands have an amazing coach and their game is really good,” she said.
“But we can compete with that now and with an extra year of the centralised programme in Sheffield, we’ve developed so much and I’m excited for a rematch with them in the final.
“We’ve just come back from Croatia and warm-weather training and it was there we decided we’re going for European champions now.
“We’re sick of getting bronze, we’ve got it six times in a row now. We want to reach a final now and see where we go.”
- Follow the 2019 European Championships action at www.britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk