A young wheelchair basketball star and athlete is aiming for Paralympic gold as lockdown eases after netting a major Welsh sports award.
Sixteen-year-old Will Bishop, a Year 11 student at leading independent school Myddelton College, in Denbigh, is a double Welsh international on the basketball court and on the track.
The talented teenager, who has mild cerebral palsy, has had to put his sporting ambitions on hold during lockdown but is looking forward to returning to competition as conditions ease and has his sights set on the Paris Paralympics in 2024.
He was called up for the Great Britain North Wales Pathway training group for training from GB and Wales coaches just before lockdown but that has been on hold though the easing of restrictions could see it resume.
But Will has been buoyed by receiving the Disability Sports Wales Inspiring My Journey award, the latest in a string of honours for the young man from Llanrhaeadr, near Denbigh, whose love of sport was fired by joining junior football training with Brighton and Hove Albion when he was primary school age and the family lived in Sussex.
Now it’s basketball and athletics that are his focus and he said: “I just love competing and have been very competitive all my life, it’s just really good fun and you make lots of good friends along the way.
“I went to the 2012 London Paralympics and was inspired by that and my goal is to compete in Paris in 2024 but there’s a long way to go before then.
“I got into wheelchair basketball when a friend recommended it to me and now I play point guard, which is the kind of midfield playmaker, for the North Wales Knights, based in Colwyn Bay.”
Will has helped the Knights win the UK National Under-15 and Under-18 titles and has won two silvers and a bronze for Wales in the National Regional Championships.
He also took part in an Insport event in Caernarfon to introduce young people to different sports and discovered a talent for sprinting which led to him winning gold in the 60 and 100 metres as a T35 sprinter at the National Junior Championships in Warwick in 2018.
He was moved to the T38 classification and in 2019 took silver at the British Championships in Derby, just 0.11 seconds behind the winner, and helped Wales win the 4×100 relay gold.
He is also a Silver Ambassador for Disability Sport Wales and visits schools to talk about inclusion and the benefits of sport for young people and he said: “Wheelchair Basketball North Wales is a fantastically inclusive organisation with opportunities for people with various disabilities, of all ages to engage in meaningful sport and competition.
“There are local and national leagues, a women’s league, groups for beginners and primary aged children in Rhyl, Conwy and Anglesey.”
Myddelton Head of PE Mike Pearson said: “Will is a very talented sportsman and is one of my GCSE students and it’s excellent to have him in my class.
“He’s certainly someone who could end up in a sporting role when he leaves education.
“He excels at wheelchair basketball and athletics but he’s part of our football and badminton teams as well.
“He doesn’t let his cerebral palsy affect him and is always keen to do as much as he can and always gives his best.”
Will added: “Myddelton College have been incredibly supportive and allowed me access to the sports hall with its facilities at break times so I could train.
“They opened the new gym just before Christmas and it’s great for me to work out there after school every day and I really want to recognize all the people who have helped me.
“I take my GCSEs this year and hope to go on to do PE and Biology at A-level because sport is where I see my future.”
Myddelton College, a co-educational day and boarding school, was the UK’s newest independent school when it opened in the autumn of 2016 and is the only school in North Wales with a 5G network.
An Estyn Report has praised the way the school celebrates its diversity, said that pupils’ behaviour was “exemplary” and was also impressed by the high level of support and guidance provided by the “committed staff”.
Andrew Allman added: “Will is an outstanding young man and we’re thrilled at his achievements and believe he will go on to many more successes.
“We have some great support here for the pupils and the foundations have been set here very successfully and our facilities are being upgraded all the time.
“I want it to be a calm, kind, happy school where pupils have mutual respect and can thrive and reach their goals and where they can enjoy a real all-round education.
“The inclusivity of the school was praised in the Estyn Report and it is a very happy place.”
The school currently has 70 boarders and 150 day pupils with 45 staff, including over 30 teachers, and Mr Allman added: “The school has integrated into the local community very well and people here are delighted is it open again and making a contribution to the local community including providing facilities for the town’s football and rugby clubs.
“We encourage local organisations to make use of our facilities here and the list of those that do also includes dance groups, a boxing club and the Scouts.”
For more on wheelchair basketball in North Wales go to www.facebook.com/WBNWKnights (Wheelchair Basketball North Wales on Facebook) or email Head Coach Mike Hayes on firstname.lastname@example.org