Knott brothers and Sharkey siblings to line up for ParalympicsGB in Goalball
The BPA today announced the men’s team for the Paralympic-specific sport of Goalball, including the Knott brothers and Michael Sharkey, whose sister Anna was selected in May this year, as well as former England under-18 basketball all-star Niall Graham.
One of only three sports at the Paralympic Games which has no Olympic equivalent, Goalball is played by athletes who have visual impairments. Players wearing black-out masks over their eyes aim to score goals by throwing a ball with a bell inside it towards the opposition’s goal, while the opposing team use their bodies to try to prevent a goal.
The Knott brothers took up Goalball after their father saw a feature on Paralympic sport on TV and then attended a BPA-run multi-sport Paralympic Potential Day at Brunel University in 2010. Two years later, the brothers will line-up alongside each other in London.
Elder brother Adam commented today: “To hear my name in the squad was incredible and the Paralympics will be awesome.
“We played in the venue [the Copper Box] in front of 1,000 people and that was fantastic. But it is off the scale to think we will be playing for GB in front of 7,000 fans. It will be amazing and emotional. I can’t wait.”
At 15, David is younger than his brother by two years. He was also excited today, saying: “The training has been very tough but it’s all worthwhile to get into the squad and represent Great Britain in the Paralympics. To be there alongside my brother is an extra bonus for both of us.”
The Knotts are not the only siblings who will represent the sport of Goalball for ParalympicsGB in London. Michael Sharkey will play for the men’s team while his sister Anna, who recently married and who plays under the name Tipton, will compete on the women’s team.
“The Paralympics will be incredible and I intend to enjoy every second of it. There will never be another moment like this and I will cherish it. Anna has been a fantastic support for me and it will be very special for us to be there together. I’m not sure how much time we’ll get together but we both feel so honoured to be a part of it”, said Michael of his selection.
“The news about making the squad was amazing. I feel so proud to have achieved that level of performance and get selected. It’s all about having that desire to get better, to spend hours in the gym and on court looking for those improvements that could make the difference. That’s all paid off and it is time to put everything into practice”, he added.
Also selected today is Niall Graham, a former England basketball player who started losing his sight aged 18 due to a congenital condition. Niall also carried the Olympic torch through his home town of Corby earlier this week.
He said: “I’ve enjoyed all the hard work of training and challenging myself to get better at a sport I love. You have to want it badly to keep going and I’m delighted to make the squad. I was lucky enough to carry the Olympic Torch through my home town of Corby and the reception was amazing. It shows how much the public are behind the Olympics and Paralympics. It made me very proud to be a part of that.”
The team is completed by the selection of Joe Dodson and Simon Goodall.
Joe Dodson said today: “I’ve been involved with the GB set up for a long time and this is best atmosphere we’ve ever had. The squad has bonded well and that will be a crucial element for us as we perform at the Games.
“We’ve all put in a lot of hard work and the set-up and coaching has been first-class. We are now ready for the action.
“The sport is growing and we are hopeful there will be a good legacy from the Games that will encourage more people into the sport.”
Meanwhile Simon Goodall commented: “It is difficult to put into words how much it means to get selected for GB. It’s about pride and passion as well as taking a fantastic opportunity to perform at the highest level. We have brilliant players, have great coaching and are close as a squad from the youngest player at 15-years-old to me at 43.
“We are going up against the best in the world but what better place to do that than London in the Paralympics.”
“The selection of the men’s Goalball team completes the squad that will compete in London in this sport”, said Craig Hunter, ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission.
“We have worked closely with the sport of Goalball, identifying potential athletes through our Paralympic Potential Days and helping to develop them through our Talent Transition Programme. As a result it is a genuine pleasure to announce these players as members of ParalympicsGB.
“Goalball is such a fast and intensive sport that I’m sure the British public will enjoy watching it”, added Hunter.
Dawn Newbery, Team Leader for Goalball, congratulated her players today, saying: "Today these six men have shown what can be achieved if you have a dream and you put everything towards it. They have made this happen against the odds."
The selected athletes are:
Joe Dodson - Leicester
Adam Knott - Chandlers Ford, Hampshire
David Knott - Chandlers Ford, Hampshire (Born: Basingstoke)
Simon Goodall - Wokingham, Berkshire
Niall Graham - Corby, Northamptonshire
Michael Sharkey - Hillingdon, Middlesex (Born: High Wycombe)