THREE years ago Robyn Love shot her first basket from a wheelchair – now she’s heading for Rio to take on the world at the Paralympics.
The former Lothian Phoenix player – whose right leg is 5cm shorter than her left – has been selected as part of the British women’s wheelchair basketball squad for the Games in Brazil this September.
The hard work over the next few months is going to continue to ramp up and the intensity is going to be even higher than usual. But I can’t wait to get out on that court in Rio.Robyn Love
The 26-year-old was born with a rare condition, arthrogryposis, in which her leg muscles were shortened because the umbilical cord was wrapped around her limbs. As a result she is missing muscle groups around her left knee and has been through excruciating operations and agonising pain to try to lengthen her right leg.
But her decision three years ago to finally accept that she had a disability has now led her to being selected for the GB squad. She said: “Being selected to represent Great Britain is an honour. I’ve dedicated the last two years of my life to being fully invested in wheelchair basketball to achieve my dream of going to the Paralympic Games.
“I’ve moved my whole life around and it was totally worth it. I’m forever grateful to my friends, family and Scottish Disability Sport, all of whom have supported me massively. The hard work over the next few months is going to continue to ramp up and the intensity is going to be even higher than usual. But I can’t wait to get out on that court in Rio.”
Robyn, a former bio-medical sciences student at Napier University, quit the Capital for Worcester, home of British Wheelchair Basketball, last year after her potential was spotted by scouts.
For despite her condition, Robyn has always played sport – from tennis to netball – alongside able-bodied partners and opposition. “I always loved sport and I was really good at it. I didn’t really think that my legs should stop me, but I think because of them I always tried harder. When I was young I didn’t even know about disabled sports, no-one ever mentioned them to me because I was doing sport.”
At university she joined Napier’s basketball team – even though she’d had an operation to cut the bone in her right leg, which was then put back together with pins, and had a plate put in her femur to straighten the leg. But when a friend injured herself and discovered wheelchair basketball, Robyn wanted to give it a shot.
“I didn’t even know about the sport until the London Paralympics, but I wanted to try it. I took to it quite naturally because I’ve got good upper body strength and the wheelchair becomes my legs.
“I got a lot of support from Tina Gordon of sportscotland and had my disability classified and she started to train me every morning. I have her to thank for telling the GB people about me and I was invited to Worcester to train just two months after I started playing.”
Robyn made the decision to move down permanently last year and train with the squad. “Rio was pretty much what I was always aiming for. I followed my dream and now I’m going to my first Paralympics. It’s amazing.”