Lee Manning is about to make his debut at his first Paralympic Games for Great Britain find out how he’s feeling.
I feel like it’s all a dream, with only a few days before heading off to my first Paralympic Games! I’m about to become a Paralympian!
It’s funny and incredibly humbling to think, almost ten years ago to the day as a uncoordinated, goofy, long armed and long legged sixteen year old, I got called up to play for the Great Britain U22 team at the U22 European Championships in Istanbul. I’d only been playing six months and had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I’d been fast tracked through as a tall centre with lots of potential.
It has taken me ten years of hard training on and off the court to make it to my first Paralympics Games. 10 years! There’s been injures, set backs and disappointment along the way but I wouldn’t change a second of it! All of it has helped shape me into the player I am now.
With 15-20 hours of training nearly every single week for the last 10 years, I’ve missed birthdays weddings and countless hours with friends and family.
In 10 years I’ve been on holiday once, and that was my honeymoon! A honeymoon I cut short to attend a GB tournament. Every single sacrifice, ache and pain are all worth it, because guess what? I’m going to be a Paralympian!
This all started thanks to a taster session run at my school in Peterborough, to think if a teacher didn’t run the session or if I was sick or had decided not to go, my whole life would have been very different! I would never of gotten into wheelchair basketball.
I’ve always loved sport but felt like my athletic sporty side was trapped inside my head. Although I’m quite able bodied by comparison to a lot of my teammates, I was never able to run around with my mates at school, I was lucky to be picked even as a goal keeper in a playground game of football, a position I could stand still and just use my long arms and hope for the best…. Getting into a wheelchair for the first time, honestly was like I’d finally found my legs! Suddenly I could go flying around and was leaving all my mates behind, struggling to even push.
From the very first second I was hooked, I knew there and then that wheelchair basketball was my sport! Little did I know it would allow me to find life long friends, my future wife and represent GB, all an added bonus to say the least…..
To say I’m excited for Rio just doesn’t seem to do it any justice what so ever. I’m well aware of the long journey it’s taken to get here. I’ve spoken about my journey but mines just 1 of 12 stories that help shape our team. We have had a hard 4 years of training and many a tournament to try put right the disappointment of the team finishing 4th at the last Paralympic Games in London. Only three days out from our first game in Rio, I feel we are finally ready! It’s time to put these demons to bed, and try show the world what we are all about! It’s time to do our friends, family and whole nation proud!
IT’S GAME TIME!