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Alex in GB squad for Junior European Championships

The former Coleg Llandrillo student is targeting the 2028 Paralympics in Los Angeles after helping Great Britain’s wheelchair basketball team win gold in an international tournament

Former Coleg Llandrillo student Alex Marshall-Wilson is in the Team GB wheelchair basketball squad preparing for this year’s Junior European Championships.

Alex, who plays for Sheffield Steelers, helped Great Britain win gold in the Kitakyushu Champions Cup in Japan in November.

His ultimate aim is to represent GB in the 2028 Paralympics in Los Angeles.

But in the much nearer future, the 20-year-old from Deganwy has exciting competitions coming up for both club and country.

Alex will play for the Steelers in the EuroCup in Hanover next month, against top teams from Germany, Turkey, Spain and Austria.

He is also training with the Great Britain under-22 squad ahead of the Junior European Championships, which are set to be held this summer once a venue has been confirmed.

Alex studied Level 3 Sport at Coleg Llandrillo’s Rhos-on-Sea campus, and is now in the first year of a degree in Sport Psychology at Loughborough University.

His wheelchair basketball career has taken off again after a break following the pandemic - and he was a key member of the GB team who won all their games in the Kitakyushu Champions Cup.

“It was an incredible experience,” said Alex, who plays as a forward. “In Japan they’ve really built on wheelchair basketball and it’s got a big following, so there was a lot of investment in the tournament.

“We were taking on Korea, their full senior national team who went to the Paralympics. Japan put in a younger squad who were still very competitive, but to win all our games against them and to win the final was very rewarding.”

Alex has Femur fibula ulna syndrome, a rare condition which meant he was born with shorter thigh, calf and forearm bones, as well as missing muscle in his right forearm.

He started using a wheelchair from the age of 10 after nerve damage caused his left leg to be paralysed.

Alex got into wheelchair basketball after his physiotherapist put him in touch with Mark Richards, the Disability Sport Officer for Conwy, who was also the coach of local team Conwy Thunder.

Alex said: “I really wanted to do sport at that point. I tried to be involved in sport in school but I tended to sit on the sidelines, as schools weren’t sure what they could do to introduce me to sport.

“When I was about 10 or 11 the disability sport officer for Conwy introduced me to a range of sports. Wheelchair basketball was the main one, which he was also the coach of.

“It gave me that sense of freedom again, being able to get into this different wheelchair that meant I could really be quite fast, keeping up with others of my age group. Also once I got into one disability sport, there were more options.”

Alex also plays wheelchair tennis, and has made the finals of several Lawn Tennis Association national tournaments in recent years.

However, his main focus is wheelchair basketball, and he hopes to play professionally after graduating.

“The main ambition is to play professionally abroad,” he said. “There are pro leagues in countries like France, Spain, Germany and Italy.

“But one of my reasons for going to uni was to have a back-up plan. If I pick up an injury that means I can’t play wheelchair basketball, I’d like to work for a sport psychology business that works with elite teams.

“I’d also like to one day set up my own business to help people with disabilities get the support they need through psychology.”

Alex said his time at Llandrillo helped him excel at sport, and also set him on the path to his sport psychology degree.

“I really enjoyed college,” he said. “It was a very different perspective. The tutors were brilliant straight away for thinking, ‘How can we get him to do this?’. They asked if I wanted to bring my sports chair in - they were very accommodating and that was something I really enjoyed.

“The people I studied with were really good too. They wanted to know what I could do, what my strengths and weaknesses were.

“Some of my classmates got involved with disability sports, and a couple of them volunteered at the local wheelchair basketball club. One of the tutors set up a taster day, and my coach brought in a load of specialist wheelchairs.

“I fully enjoyed the course. I was able to take lots of things I learned into my sport, like nutrition and fitness. One of the topics was sport psychology, and that really helped me to improve myself mentally and stay focused.

“I was interested in sport psychology before I came to college. I’d looked into college and saw they did a bit of psychology on the course, and it’s led to me studying it at Loughborough.”

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