Celebrations as Leah makes final Rio team

Leah Evans will represent Team GB in Wheelchair Basketball at the Paralympic Games in Rio.
Leah Evans will represent Team GB in Wheelchair Basketball at the Paralympic Games in Rio.

The parents of wheelchair basketball star Leah Evans say they “could not be prouder” after it was announced she had made the final squad for this year’s Paralympic Games.

Nineteen-year-old Leah, from Townville, will travel to Rio to compete in the sport as part of Team GB in September.

And proud parents Dawn and David Evans will make the 5,500 mile journey with her brother William, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to support her.

Mrs Evans said: “We know how hard it has been for Leah to get to this point and how she has had to struggle. She has made the team through hard work and determination and we are so proud. We are so excited to go see her.”

Leah was born with bilateral congenital hip deformities - a condition which means she has no hip joints. After a fall at the age of 15, surgeons told her she would need to use a wheelchair.

The determined teen turned her hand to wheelchair basketball, playing her first game with the Wakefield Whirlwinds in 2013.

She has since won gold medals with the GB Women’s Under 25s team in the European and World Championships.

Mrs Evans said: “We cannot believe how far Leah has come in such a short space of time. We are so proud of her for not giving up and fighting on to achieve so much.”

The Express launched the ‘Let’s Get Leah to Rio’ campaign after the teen was selected for the team’s provisional squad last year. And members of the community have backed her bid to reach the ultimate sporting stage.

Mrs Evans said: “It has been absolutely overwhelming the support that Leah has had from people in the area, her former school and all her clubs and coaches who have helped her to get where she is. A big thank you to everyone who has got behind her.”

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said: “It’s brilliant that Leah has made the team. It’s a testament to the incredible hard work she’s put in and the obstacles she overcame to make sure she could train to the highest level. She’s made everyone in Castleford very proud and we’ll all be tuning in and cheering her on with the rest of team GB.”

The former Airedale Academy pupil will spend the next four months training ahead of the games.