Royal praise as district’s athletes go for gold

Sophie Carrigill.

Sophie Carrigill.

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Paralympic GB’s women’s wheelchair basketball team have received high praise from the Countess of Wessex.

Her Royal Highness, who is patron of British Wheelchair Basketball, wished the athletes good luck as they prepared to play their semi-final match in Rio later today.

Leah Evans.

Leah Evans.

Among them are the district’s Paralympians Sophie Carrigill, of Wakefield, and Leah Evans, from Castleford, who are gearing up for the game this afternoon.

The Countess said: “As you prepare for the women’s semi-final tie against the United States of America, I wanted to wish you every success for what I know will be an exciting and difficult match.

“Your performances in these Paralympic Games have been exceptional and a fantastic showcase for wheelchair basketball.

“Your successes, determination and passion continue to inspire people to take up this brilliant sport.”

Jamie Stead.

Jamie Stead.

The women won three out of their four games in the preliminary round of the sporting competition in the Brazilian capital. They lost their first game to Canada by 43 to 36.

But they went on to win their remaining three games, beating Argentina 79 to 20, reigning Paralympic champions Germany 50 to 45 and home nation Brazil 63 to 32.

Writing on Twitter after Saturday’s Germany victory, 22-year-old former Wakefield Girls High School pupil Sophie said: “What a win against Germany today. So proud of this team! #forwardmomentum.”

The women also won their quarter-final game against China by 57 to 38 on Tuesday.

Former Airedale Academy student Leah, 19, said on Twitter: “We are into the semi-finals against USA. Super excited, words can’t describe how amazing this is. So proud of this team.”

Jamie Stead, 22, of Normanton, is also representing the district as part of the wheelchair rugby team.

The squad narrowly lost their first game against reigning champions Australia, by 53 to 51, on Wednesday.

They are due to face Canada later today.