Tokyo 2020 One to Watch – Joy Haizelden

GB Paralympian wheelchair basketball player Joy Haizelden started out in wheelchair basketball when she was just 13 years old. Now 20 she’s training for the European Championships in Rotterdam, hoping to qualify for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020.

Joy’s career in the sport was a result of poor P.E. facilities at her secondary school which left her feeling frustrated that she couldn’t join in with her non-disabled peers in many of the sports.

It was Joy’s father who suggested she try wheelchair basketball for the first time, following a conversation with a friend who knew about the sport. Following her first session, Joy has been in love with the sport ever since.

Joy said: “I would say take every single opportunity that you get, that’s what I did with wheelchair basketball. It’s led me on this amazing journey which I would have never imagined, and I think if there’s a sport you want to play then just try it – you never know what or where it could lead to.”

Joy competed in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games as a member of ParalympicsGB, she was also part of the GB Women’s Team who secured the World Championships silver medal at Hamburg in 2018, and she captained the GB Junior Women to European Championships Gold in 2018.

Joy spoke about her love for wheelchair basketball and her favourite aspect of the sport.

“For me it’s the ‘team’ approach. The fact that you’re playing alongside 11 other women, you can have a laugh with them but when it comes to important games we connect. It just feels natural and like family to me.”

Joy and the rest of her wheelchair basketball team train at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield which is based at the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.  The squad enjoys structured training sessions which include one-to-one training as well as team training, physio and nutritional advice.

“When we train as a team we normally work on scrummaging and going up against each other, we also have Strength and Conditioning which is more personalised to the individual, this is important to make sure we perform better as individuals on-court.”