By David Gold

Mandip Sehmi_17-05-12May 17 - The British Paralympic Association (BPA) has announced the London 2012 wheelchair rugby squad that it hopes will reach the podium on home soil this summer, having finished fourth at the last two Paralympic Games.

The squad impressed at the International Invitational Wheelchair Rugby Tournament, the London 2012 test event, at the Basketball Arena on the Olympic Park last month, where they took second place behind the Beijing 2008 silver medallists Australia.

However, Britain had beaten their strong Australian counterparts earlier in the tournament, demonstrating the improvements they have made in recent months.

Mandip Sehmi (pictured above, left) will be one of the key names in a squad which also includes Andy Barrow, Ross Morrison and Jonny Coggan, veterans of the last two Paralympic Games.

Bulbul Hussain, who like Sehmi was in Beijing four years' ago, also made the British London 2012 team.

Kylie Grimes_17-05-12Six players will be making their Paralympic debuts, namely Steve Brown, Myles Pearson, David Anthony, Mike Kerr, Kylie Grimes (pictured right) and Aaron Phipps, whose goalscoring ability could be key.

During the development of these new wheelchair rugby stars, Anthony, Brown, Pearson and Phipps have been put through an intensive 10-week training camp in the United States – home of the world's top team.

"We are definitely looking for a medal out of this Paralympic Games," said Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR) chief executive David Pond.

"The team has finished agonisingly close at the last two Games, despite securing strong results including three successive European golds in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

"So after Beijing we took some of our best young and promising talent out to the 2009 European Championships where we finished fourth and the 2010 World Championships where we finished fifth.

"We also put five of the most promising athletes through an intensive training camp where they competed against some of the best American players, which we knew would make our players tougher, faster and fitter.

"These players prove more exciting each day and they now have the experience they need to compete at the highest level at the Paralympic Games.

"We demonstrated this at the 2011 European Championships where we won silver.

"We are now in a position where we are confident that the team we have nominated to the BPA is one that can win a medal this time around."

Tom O'Connor, Britain's wheelchair rugby head coach, is particularly excited at Phipps' talent.

"The selection of Aaron is important to us and a very definite part of our strategy," he said.

"All of the top nations have high-point players and indeed Australia's high-pointer Ryley Batt is considered one of the best players in the world.

"Having Aaron on the team means that we have the potential to take on players like Ryley and that can make the crucial difference between winning and losing a game."

Grimes is another notable name as she becomes the second female ever to be selected for the British wheelchair rugby team in the mixed gender sport.

craig hunter_paralympicsgb_wheelchair_rugby_squad_17-05-12ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission Craig Hunter (pictured left, centre) said: "I'd like to welcome these 11 athletes.

"These players have worked incredibly hard and shown huge dedication in order to reach this point and I am delighted that we can now announce their selection."

"Wheelchair Rugby is a tough, fast game played with no fear and plenty of clashes and it's certainly not for the faint-hearted.

"It's undoubtedly one of the sports that the British public has taken to and tickets to see the sport at London 2012 are already sold out, which is fantastic.

"I look forward to seeing the team compete for a place on the podium in just over 100 days' time."

The total number of athletes so far selected for ParalympicsGB now stands at 119.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
April 2012: GB's Phipps impresses but Batt and Bond take Australia to International Invitational Wheelchair Rugby victory
March 2012: Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby announced squad for London 2012 test event
September 2011: Great Britain wheelchair rugby team take second place in 2011 GB Cup as Australia claim victory
September 2011: We'll challenge for gold at London 2012, promises GB wheelchair rugby official as GB Cup opens
June 2011: GB wheelchair rugby team crowned European champion