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Teenage rugby star dreams of Paralympics just six years after life-changing accident

by Ben Hart

Rugby star Hannah Bucys has been selected for a prestigious sports programme and will replace Paralympic legends Ellie Simmonds, Hollie Arnold and Ade Adepitan.

Bucys said the sport had given him a new lease of life after a horrific accident turned his world upside down and he had been named by charity SportsAid as an athlete with the potential to reach the top.

The 21-year-old represented England as a gymnast but was forced to quit the sport after suffering a spinal cord injury during a club training session at the end of 2018.

Bucys met with the wheelchair rugby team during his rehabilitation process and is aiming to compete at the Paralympics in six years’ time.

“I have been selected for the Great Britain wheelchair rugby talent squad, the development squad, which is very exciting and my aim is to eventually be part of the elite team,” said Bucys, from Oldham.

“I hope one day I can compete internationally and go to the Paralympics, that would be absolutely amazing. That’s my biggest dream.”

Bucys, who graduated from Hull University with a degree in physiotherapy earlier this year, never expected to find a sport that could replace what trampolining means to her.

“Before my spinal cord injury I didn’t even know wheelchair rugby existed,” he said.

“It was a life-changing event and everything changes but I wanted to find my love for the sport again and I definitely found that through wheelchair rugby.

“He gave me that love and I’m so glad I found it.

“It’s given me a focus, a purpose. It’s fun and the team is great.

“I am a very ambitious person and this gives me something to work towards and want to constantly improve myself.

“It’s also a team sport and in trampoline you’re competing on your own as opposed to being on a team, so it’s more of a transition from an individual sport to a team sport, working with other people, working with your teammates and achieving together.

“It’s a really nice community and you can see how you can improve and learn from each other. I’ve made lifelong friends from rugby, not just on my own team but on other teams too.”

Bucys is one of 50 athletes supported by a partnership between Pitching In, a multi-million pound grassroots sports programme set up by Ladbrokes and Coral owner Entain, and SportsAid.

These athletes are some of the brightest sporting hopes in Great Britain. They are nominated for SportsAid by the national governing bodies of over 60 sports, each with their own set of criteria. The typical value of a SportsAid award is £1,000, with the money raised through a combination of commercial partnerships, trust and charitable funds and fundraising activities.

“When I found out SportsAid was going to support me I was thrilled,” Bucys said. “I was just so grateful. It’s an incredible opportunity.

“I am so grateful to have this opportunity and to make the most of it and see where I can go.

“I hope one day I can compete internationally and go to the Paralympics, that would be really cool, that’s my biggest dream.”

Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to support the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing financial support and personal development opportunities to talented young athletes in partnership with SportsAid. To find out more visit entaingroup.com.