Southampton’s paralympic star Joy Haizelden is “really excited” ahead of the National Paralympic Day on Saturday.
The 15-year-old wheelchair basketball player has just made her major senior Great Britain debut in Toronto and is preparing to inspire the next generation of the city’s young paralympians despite her young years.
“I am really excited about the National Paralympic Day,” she said about the nationawide event, which takes place this Saturday.
“I hope it’s going to be a really good day like last year.
“Hopefully it can inspire other people to get into sport and try new things.”
Thousands are expected to descend on the event at London’s Queen Elizabeth Park in celebration of the achievements of the nation’s Paralympics team.
There are a series of events to try out on the day, including wheelchair basketball, rowing and dancing.
In turn, it is hoped that Hampshire’s, and the rest of the country’s, next generation of disabled athletes will be inspired by the event.
The King’s School pupil, who will be competing at Sainsbury’s School Games alongside her sister Miriam, has spina bifida and helped Great Britain Under-25s to European silver last year while also playing as Great Britain beat Spain at the inaugural National Paralympic Day.
Her next challenge, after helping GB to fifth-place at the World Championships – their best ever result – is to take on 2012 Paralympics bronze medallists the Netherlands at the Paralympic Day.
The World Championships in Canada was a real high point in Haizelden’s career so far. She said: “Going out for my senior debut at a major championships was really special.
“It was great to be a part of a team which finished in their highest ever spot.”
But the youngster has set her sights even higher.
“My long term aim is to go to the Paralympics and be in Rio,” she said.
“Obviously I’m still young and it’s quite hard to balance the school work but I manage it.”
Haizelden has quickly made a name for herself in the senior side, but will be back playing for the GB junior team at the Under-25 World Championships next summer. “I enjoy playing as part of the juniors still,” she said. “I’m still developing as a player and it’s nice to be a part of that team.”
National Paralympic Day will be celebrated on Saturday, August 30, with a day of Paralympic sport and disability arts in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. To get involved visit: axs.com/national-paralympic-day