Tokyo 2020 ‘not off the cards’ for Isleworth wheelchair basketball champ

Trying to break into the best wheelchair basketball team in the world is the task facing Isleworth’s Christy Gregan and it’s a challenge he’s relishing.

The 24-year-old was grudgingly persuaded to try the sport by teachers at St Mark’s Secondary School in Hounslow and now he’s targeting the Paralympics in 2020.

In the intervening 11 years, Gregan has become a key part of the GB U23 squad who are the current world champions and European silver medallists.

As well as helping his national squad take gold in the Kitakyushu Champions International Cup, he shepherded London Titans to a third-placed league finish.

But still Gregan, who has cerebral palsy, finds stiff competition to grab a spot in Britain’s 15-man professional cohort guaranteed to make the plane in 2020.

It’s only likely to get tougher, as well, after Britain claimed gold at last month’s World Championships in Hamburg for the first time, beating USA in the final.

While Gregan admits time is ticking until Tokyo, the senior side’s success has only increased his motivation.

“Things have just got a bit harder for me, trying to break into the best team in the world,” said Gregan, speaking at a white-water rafting day run by Caesar’s Entertainment in aid of SportsAid.

“In the last year of training, I knew they were capable of getting gold and there are some great athletes in there, a lot of whom I’ve grown up with.

“It’s huge for the sport and I’m massively proud of all of them. It’s sort of driven me on even further, to get in that team and become a part of the best in the world.

“Ideally by now I would have made that Worlds team, which would have put me in a much better position for Tokyo. But I don’t think it’s completely off the cards.

“The depth we have in the programme is huge. Lots of athletes come in and out of the squad within a four-year cycle, or even a two-year cycle.

“There’s still a chance but 2024 could be more of a realistic goal.”

Gregan will spend the summer training, focussing on small improvements to his fundamentals, before re-joining the GB program in September.

His cause is also being helped by Caesars Entertainment, who are teaming up with charity SportsAid to support Britain’s most promising athletes.

Charity SportsAid, whose alumni include Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Sir Mo Farah, provide promising youngsters with funding and recognition early on in their careers.

Among their backers are Caesars, whose employees took SportsAid athletes under their wing for a rip-roaring day of rafting on September 27 at Lee Valley.

Olympic champion Etienne Stott was on hand to provide guidance for teams tasked with building and racing rafts, with Gregan in a time alongside Empire Casino.

Gregan expressed his gratitude for such support at a vital, early stage in his career.

“It was a great day and the team I worked with were very welcoming,” he said.

“The grant helps me with my travel costs – I need to commute from London to Sheffield and the English Institute of Sport three times a week.

“Money from Caesar’s and SportsAid is essential and their support is a real confidence-booster.”

Caesars Entertainment EMEA is helping young athletes at SportsAid by giving them recognition and financial support during the critical formative years of their careers. For more information, please visit

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