Chris Ryan

Captain

Classification: 2.0

Date of birth: 11/07/91

Home town: Welwyn Garden City

Club: London WRC

Disability: Spinal injury

Initially a keen footballer, Chris found a passion for golf during his teens. With a handicap down to just 2, and a collection of Junior Open and scratch medals to his name, Chris was confident he knew what the future held. He enrolled at the Sports Academy for Golf in Colchester, and was studying for a B.Tech in Sports Evaluation and Performance, when the car he was a passenger in crashed in November 2008.

Like many of the GB squad members, Chris undertook his rehab at the spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville. He was introduced to wheelchair rugby by the unit’s sports therapist but, initially concerned with just getting on with life, Chris returned home to assess his options.

In 2010 he joined the London club and became inspired by the players with the same function as him, who had far greater independence and ability. Chris worked hard to improve his strength and speed and was put on the reserve list for London 2012. Chris was selected to the full squad in 2013, named vice captain in March 2014 and appointed national Captain in July 2015. In September 2015 he led the GB team to reclaim the European title after 8 years, and gain automatic qualification to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Playing history

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – Winners

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

2013 European Championships, Belgium – 3rd

Gavin Walker

Vice Captain

Classification: 2.0

Date of Birth: 13/10/83

Home town: Rotherham

Club: Marauders

Disability: Spinal injury

Gavin joined the fire service in 2003 but his life changed significantly when he broke his neck, slipping on some wet decking in 2010. During his rehab in the Sheffield Spinal Unit, Gavin met Sarah Leighton, a GBWR classifier, and physio. Sarah told him all about the sport and in 2011 Gavin went along to his first training session at the Marauders club. Selected to the Development Squad in 2011/12, Gavin joined a new cohort of players who now make up the main body of the national squad.

Gavin continued to work for the fire service in Sheffield until 2012. In 2013 he was selected for the national squad and became a full time athlete. He competed in his first Major at the European Championships in Antwerp in 2013, returning with a bronze medal, and went on to compete in the World Championships in Denmark in 2014. In July 2015 Gavin was appointed vice captain, working alongside new captain Chris Ryan.  He went on to compete in the successful European Championship team in September of the same year before returning to play in the BT WWRC15 competition in London. Gavin is the proud father of two daughters.

Playing history

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – Winners

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

2013 European Championships – 3rd

Mike Kerr

Classification: 1.5

Date of birth: 13/10/82

Home town: Glasgow

Club: West Coast Crash

Disability: Spinal injury

Taking a break from his studies in health and fitness, Mike was enjoying his holiday in Corfu when he dived in to the shallow end of the hotel swimming pool and broke his neck. This put paid to his plans to join the army as a PT instructor. Transferred to the Glasgow spinal unit Mike tried his hand at a number of sports, and was told about wheelchair rugby although didn’t get the chance to try it out. In 2001 Mike went along to his first training session with the Scottish Wildcats. He took to the sport immediately and in 2005 attended GB trials and was selected for the full squad. Mike is proud to note that he is the first, and only, Scot to represent GB at wheelchair rugby.

Mike played in his first major in 2011, at the European Championships in Switzerland, finishing with a silver medal. He was made vice-captain of the GB team for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and in 2014 was appointed as captain for the national team. Despite relinquishing the captaincy in 2015 Mike continued to play a key role in the European Championship team, returning from Finland with a gold medal.

Playing history

2015 European Championships, Finland – Winners

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2013 European Championships – 3rd

2012 London Paralympics – 5th

2011 European Championships, Switzerland – 2nd

Jamie Stead

Classification: 2.5

Date of Birth: 22/09/93

Home Town: Dewsbury

Club: Leicester Tigers

Disability: Cerebral Palsy

As a keen sportsman, Jamie tried a number of sports before settling on wheelchair rugby. He holds 3 gold medals at national level in swimming, and was a talented wheelchair basketball player at U19 level. However, wheelchair rugby is his new home and as part of the new cohort of GB players, he is already making a big impact.

He made his international debut at the Canada cup in 2014 and has gone on to represent GB at European and World level, most recently returning from the European Championships in Finland with a gold medal.

Playing History

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – Winners

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

Coral Batey

Classification: 2.0

Date of birth: 06/05/95

Home town: Bradford

Club: West Coast Crash

Disability: Unknown

Coral, a former Yorkshire U19s wheelchair basketball player, was first introduced to wheelchair rugby by her boyfriend’s father. Invited to attend a training session of the North Wales Dragons, Coral was quickly enrolled by the club. A natural at the game with excellent chair skills, it wasn’t long before her talent was spotted by the GB coaches, and with impressive speed was fast tracked into the full GB squad.

Her first international match came in January 2014, at the Tri-Nations tournament in Toronto, and Coral went on to represent GB at the Canada Cup and the 2014 World Championships. At the Canada Cup, Coral made an immediate impression on the world stage, winning best in class – a remarkable achievement for a player with less than one year’s experience in the sport.

Coral is the youngest member of the squad, and the only female. In addition to wheelchair rugby, Coral has a keen interest in wheelchair basketball and, when not training or playing rugby, she can be found playing for and coaching the Leeds Spiders basketball team.

Playing history

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – Winners

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

Ayaz Bhuta

Classification: 2.5

Date of birth: 17/04/89

Home town: Bolton

Club: West Coast Crash

Disability: Roberts Syndrome

Bolton’s Ayaz Bhuta, is part of the new crop of young talented players to enter the national squad since London 2012. Born with Roberts Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the growth of bones in the arms and legs, Ayaz stands at just 3’ 7”. But what he lacks in height, he more than makes up for in character and talent. Originally a wheelchair basketball player, Ayaz started playing club rugby in 2009, and found the more physical elements of the game suited him better. He was selected to play in a tri-nations tournament in Australia in 2010. Ayaz returned from Australia disappointed after being warned that his size meant he would be unlikely to succeed at international level. However Ayaz is nothing if not persistent. He stuck with the game and was selected for the GBWR Development Squad in 2011.

At his first development squad tournament (Rugby Mania 2012) Ayaz was voted ‘best in class’ and from then on he went from strength to strength. In 2013 he made his full GB debut at the Denmark Challenge Cup, where he was again voted best in class.

In Canada Cup 2014 Ayaz was again named the best 2.5 of the tournament. A popular player, Ayaz went on to win the inaugural Fans MVP award at the 2014 World Championships.

Playing history

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – Winners

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

2013 European Championships – 3rd

Jim Roberts

Classification: 3.0

Date of Birth: 03/09/87

Home Town: Welshpool

Club: London Storm

Disability: Bi-lateral amputee

Jim Roberts was a successful Welsh cross country runner when he caught bacterial meningitis whilst an under graduate at Coventry University. This resulted in a prolonged stay in hospital, and the amputation of both his legs. Jeanette Jones, a nurse who supported his rehab, introduced him to the sport of Wheelchair Rugby and Jim quickly became an influential force in the game.

Leaving hospital in 2010, Jim returned to his studies, gaining a 1st Class honours degree in Architectural Design. He was picked for the development squad in 2012 and made his GB debut in 2013 at the European Championships. Jim has played on both sides of the Atlantic – for Phoenix Heat in the winter and London WRC in the summer – winning national honours for both teams and gaining recognition as MVP at the US Nationals in 2015.

At the European Championships in September 2015, Jim was awarded Best in Class, clinching the winning goal to reclaim the European title after 8 years, and gaining automatic qualification to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Playing history

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – Winners

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2014 Canada Cup – 4th

2013 European Championships – 3rd

Mandip Sehmi

Classification: 2.5

Date of Birth: 13/12/80

Home Town: Leamington Spa

Club: London WRC

Disability: Spinal injury

Mandip (aka Manni) was injured in a car crash at the age of 19 whilst studying for a degree in mechanical engineering. Like many of his team mates Manni was introduced to the sport of wheelchair rugby in a ‘have a go’ session at Stoke Mandeville hospital, run by former GB captain Bob O’Shea.

Manni started playing rugby with Birmingham Bandits, and was invited to join the World Friendship tour in 2002, as part of the GB development squad. His first taste of full international competition came when he was selected to represent GB at the 2005 European Championships in Denmark, where he won the first of his three European Gold medals. Manni has represented GB in two Paralympic Games (Beijing and London).

Playing history

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2013 European Championships – 3rd

2012 London Paralympics – 5th

2011 European Championships, Switzerland – 2nd

2010 World Championships, Canada – 6th

2009 European Championships, Denmark – 4th

2008 Beijing Paralympics – 4th

2007 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2005 European Championships, Denmark – 1st

Jonathan Coggan

Classification: 0.5

Date of birth: 25/04/83

Home town: Chelmsford

Club: London WRC Storm

Disability: Spinal injury

Jonny was injured in a car crash in 2000. A keen footballer, Jonny watched the Sydney Paralympics from his hospital bed. During rehab at Stoke Mandeville, Jonny was introduced to a wide range of Paralympic sports but focussed his attention on Wheelchair Rugby because, as a team sport that allowed physical contact, it came closest to his previous experience as a footballer. At Stoke Mandeville Jonny shared a ward with another future GB player, Manni Sehmi.

Jonny started playing club rugby in 2001, and in 2002 was invited to go on a World Rugby Tour with the GB development squad. The tour took in San Diego, Sydney, Singapore and Cape Town. In 2003 he participated in the World Wheelchair Games in Christchurch, New Zealand and then went on to gain his first full international cap playing in the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.

Since then Jonny has been a constant fixture in the GB squad. Considered to be one of the best 0.5s in the game, he has won best in class at the 2006 World Championships and in the 2009 and 2011 European Championships.

Playing history

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – Winners

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2013 European Championships – 3rd

2012 London Paralympics – 5th

2011 European Championships, Switzerland – 2nd

2010 World Championships, Canada – 6th

2009 European Championships, Denmark – 4th

2008 Beijing Paralympics – 4th

2007 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2006 World Championships, New Zealand – 4th

2005 European Championships, Denmark – 1st

2004 Athens Paralympics – 4th

Bulbul Hussain

Classification: 1.0

Date of birth: 3/01/72

Home town: London

Club: London WRC

Disability: Spinal injury

Bulbul (aka Bully) suffered a spinal injury as the result of a road traffic accident in 1994. Prior to his accident Bully worked as a car mechanic, and had little interest in sport.

At Stoke Mandeville rehab unit, Bully was introduced to wheelchair rugby by one of the unit’s nurses (who happened to be a GBWR referee). Initially not that keen on playing the sport Bully returned home but after two years with “little to do but paint”, Bully decided to give rugby a try. He joined London WRC in 1997 and got hooked. He made his international debut in 1999, but Bully failed to break in to the squad for the major tournaments and after several years of disappointment took a two-year break from the game in 2004.

Returning to the sport in 2006, with fresh enthusiasm, Bully was selected for the World Championship squad and went on to retain his place for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Since then he has been a regular member of the GB squad.

Thanks, in part, to an impressive new training regime, Bully is ‘unofficially’ credited with being the fastest 1.0 in the world.

Playing history

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2013 European Championships, Belgium – 3rd

2012 London Paralympics – 5th

2011 European Championships, Switzerland – 2nd

2010 World Championships, Canada – 6th

2009 European Championships, Denmark – 4th

2008 Beijing Paralympics – 4th

2007 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2006 World Championships, New Zealand – 4th

Alan Ash

Classification: 2.0

Date of Birth: 27/01/73

Home Town: Wolverhampton

Club: West Coast Crash

Disability: Spinal cord injury

GB’s longest serving player, Alan started his international career back in 1995 playing in the first ever World Wheelchair Rugby Championships in Switzerland. Al was a member of the Royal Marines when, at 17, he was involved in a car crash that put paid to his military career. Always a talented sportsman Al has played semi-professional football for Wolverhampton Wanderers, and trialed for Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion. He was first introduced to wheelchair rugby whilst in rehab at Oswestry Spinal Injuries unit. Then GB Head Coach, Brian Worrell, ran regular training sessions and invited Al to join his local club in 1991.

Al gained his first taste of international competition in 1995 playing in the World Championships in Switzerland, where GB finished 4th. Al has competed in four Paralympic Games (Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing). He missed out on a slot in the London 2012 squad, but was soon back in the GB fold, competing in the European Championships in 2013 and the World Championships in 2014.

Al has had two spells as GB captain, first in the 2004/05 season, and more recently for 2013/14.

Playing history

2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Championships – 5th

2015 European Championships, Finland – Winners

2014 World Championships, Denmark – 5th

2013 European Championships – 3rd

2013 Denmark Challenge Cup – 4th

2011 European Championships, Switzerland – 2nd

2010 World Championships, Canada – 6th

2008 Beijing Paralympics – 4th

2007 European Championships, Finland – 1st

2006 World Championships, New Zealand – 4th

2005 European Championships, Denmark – 1st

2004 Athens Paralympics – 4th

2003 European Championships, Belgium – 1st

2002 World Championships, Sweden – 5th

2000 Sydney Paralympics – 5th

1998 World Championships, Canada – 4th

1996 Atlanta Paralympics – 4th

1995 World Championships, Switzerland – 4th

Ryan Cowling

Classification: 1.0

Date of Birth: 05/02/76

Home Town: Matlock

Club: West Coast Crash

Disability: Spinal injury

Playing history

2016 Rio Test event -1st

Chris Ryan

Captain

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Media Day

Gavin Walker

Vice Captain

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Media Day

Mike Kerr

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Media Day

Jamie Stead

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Media Day

Coral Batey

CB

Ayaz Bhuta

AB

Jim Roberts

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Media Day

Mandip Sehmi

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Media Day

Jonathan Coggan

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Media Day

Bulbul Hussain

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Media Day

Alan Ash

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Media Day

Ryan Cowling

RC edit