Team Hallam Sportswoman of the Year targets Tokyo!
Lucy Robinson swept the board at the 2020 Team Hallam Sports Ball. We caught up with the TASS-supported wheelchair basketball ace as the World Under 25 and European Under 24 medallist looks forward to a long-awaited return to action.
TASS: You had a shot at the Tokyo Paralympics this summer – how frustrated are you that the games have been pushed back 12 months?
Lucy Robinson: It’s strange because before Christmas I hadn’t even considered the Paralympics as a possibility. I wasn’t part of the GB senior set up at that stage but just after Christmas I got invited to my first camp. I made the top 14 and the top 12 would have gone to Japan. So I guess I was in with a chance! I would have had the opportunity to impress at a couple of camps and tournaments in Colorado and Germany before the final selection. It didn’t work out that way in the end but it might be for the best. I’ll have another year of experience under my belt by this time next year and I have another year to prepare and get myself in the best shape possible. Tokyo is definitely a target now.
TASS: How has TASS support helped you to develop as a dual career athlete?
LR: It’s been invaluable. I graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with a first class degree in Primary Education earlier this year and I’ve got a Masters lined up for October. And throughout my time as a TASS athlete the funding to support my wheelchair basketball has been vital. I had to buy a new wheelchair a while back and even a new wheel costs £700. I’m always travelling to Scotland and Wales for matches and without the TASS funding I don’t know how I would have managed. It’s a huge relief to know that there’s some money there to help me when I need it most. Then there’s the physiotherapy, strength and conditioning and access to sports psychologists. Fortunately, I’ve not had to use the full medical scheme but the physio treatment I’ve had on my shoulders and back has kept me going at times. If I was doing all of this on my own then I really wouldn’t know where to start looking for advice on things like nutrition or S&C. Paid, full-time athletes don’t need to worry about all of the off-court stuff as much but when you’re in full-time education and playing at an elite level it’s difficult to put a value on TASS support.
TASS: You were named Sportswoman Of The Year at the 2020 Team Hallam Sports Ball and Sheffield Hallam Wheelchair Basketball Club picked up the Team Of The Year prize. Can you take us through what’s been a pretty special season?
LR: You couldn’t have written a better script. The women’s basketball team only just got into the end-of-season BWB University Championships – it’s what we work for all year and we’d won it the previous two seasons. But because of COVID-19 we weren’t sure if the tournament was going to go ahead until the last minute. Everywhere we looked sporting fixtures were being cancelled but the championships did go ahead – some people were very critical of the decision but I’m pleased it happened. In the previous two years we’d gone in there pretty confident and expecting to win because we had a few senior GB players on the team and we felt unbeatable. This year we were without those players and the pressure was on. We needed to up our game and change our attitude. We were down by 10 points in the last five minutes of the semi-final only to come back and win by a single basket. The final was the same – we beat Brunel by two points after a real thriller. It actually meant more to win the championship this year because we were right up against it.
TASS: How did it feel to be recognised by your Hallam peers?
LR: It meant so much. I think there was a recognition that, as a team, we had to work even harder to get that third win on the bounce. As a club we have to find our own referees, arrange our own travel and work outside of the usual university sport framework. We do get a huge amount of support from Team Hallam but the fact is we’re not a BUCS sport and that does make things more difficult. To be recognised for winning the BWB University Championships in spite of all that was a wonderful feeling.
TASS: And did you expect to win the individual award?
LR: Not at all! I read an email to say that I was nominated and even that came as a complete surprise. I was shocked because Team Hallam is home to so many sports and so many successful athletes that it never even crossed my mind that I’d be in contention. Sheffield Hallam has an excellent reputation for sport and even though I’ve had a really successful season I still felt there were more worthy winners!
TASS: What do you love about wheelchair basketball?
LR: Before I had my accident I was a goalkeeper and I had high hopes that I’d become a top footballer. When I was told I couldn’t compete in any running sports I tried a few things, including archery. But I just found that so technically difficult and, if I’m honest, a little boring. I was used to team sports and everything that entails so when I was introduced to wheelchair basketball by the Leicester Cobras I knew that’s where my future lay. I loved it from the first minute – there was the fast pace, the competitiveness and social side of the sport. I’d found everything that I’d been missing. It keeps me fit and I have a huge amount of fun.
TASS: As lockdown restrictions continue to be lifted do you feel as if there is light at the end of the tunnel for elite athletes?
LR: I went through a period a couple of months ago when I was just really demotivated. I’m used to having a goal in mind and a target to hit and I found those weeks of uncertainty very difficult to deal with. But in the last few weeks I’ve really got going again and rediscovered my appetite for the game. I found a fantastic outdoor court near where I live and it feels amazing to be playing basketball again.