British wheelchair rugby players Ayaz Bhuta and Jim Roberts have joined the roster of BT Ambassadors, it has been announced.
They join several other Paralympic-level athletes, including Jonnie Peacock, Hannah Cockroft, Ben Rowlings and Julie Rogers, who are already BT Ambassadors.
Bhuta, who was born with Roberts Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the growth of bones in the arms and legs, began playing wheelchair rugby in 2009.
He was selected for the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR) development squad in 2011 and was part of the British team that came fifth in the World Championships last year.
"I switched from wheelchair basketball to wheelchair rugby because the physical elements of the sport suited me more" said Bhuta.
"I’m thrilled to have been selected as a BT Ambassador.
"Having their support is invaluable as it allows me to really focus on training and the team can go to international competitions knowing we’re as prepared as we possibly can be.”
Roberts was a Welsh cross-country runner and caught bacterial meningitis while a student at Coventry University, resulting in the amputation of both legs.
He was introduced to wheelchair rugby by a nurse who supported his rehabilitation whilst in hospital.
He was picked for the development squad in 2012 and his international debut was in 2013 at the European Championships.
Roberts currently plays on both sides of the Atlantic – for Phoenix Heat in the winter and London Wheelchair Rugby Club in the summer.
For the last two seasons he achieved a clean sweep, winning the US Quad Rugby Association nationals in the USA, and the GB Nationals at home.
“I have always been very active so I knew that sport was going to play a big part in my rehabilitation," said Roberts.
"Some of us are born with a disability, others like me acquire it later in life.
"For many people I know, having the opportunity to give a sport a go is a huge part of their recovery."
With the Britain's wheelchair rugby team currently ranked number one in Europe and fifth in the world, Bhuta and Roberts are focusing on the team’s next two crucial competitions - the European Championships in Finland in September and the BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge at the Copper Box Arena in London from October 12 to 16, where the Britain will face seven of the world’s top nations.
David Pond, Chief Executive of Wheelchair Rugby, said, “This is such an exciting time for wheelchair rugby and our partnership with BT will help take our take our sport into a whole new and exciting period of development," said David Pond, chief executive of GBWR.
"BT’s support of Paralympic and disability sport is unparalleled and I’m delighted that two of our players have joined the BT Ambassador team.”
Earlier this year, BT announced a three-year partnership with GBWR by becoming its Official Principal Partner, as well as the Official Communications Partner.
July 2015: British squad named in pursuit of first European Wheelchair Rugby title since 2007
July 2015: ITV to broadcast BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge
May 2015: London Wheelchair Rugby Club Storm take inaugural BT Wheelchair Rugby National Championships title on Olympic Park
May 2015: First ever Wheelchair Rugby National Championships to take place in London's Olympic Park
March 2015: Ticket sales open for first World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge