One of the region’s leading athletes is set to appear on television screens across the country after he became the subject of a documentary counting down to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
On Sunday, August 29 it will be two-years-to-go until the 2012 Paralympic Games, and to celebrate the countdown Channel 4 will be airing a documentary called Inside Incredible Athletes.
The programme follows seven Paralympians who have ambitions of competing at 2012 including Leamington Spa-born wheelchair rugby player Mandip Sehmi (above right)
He said: “It has been very exciting - they have been filming with us for a few months now and looking at the scientific side of how our bodies respond to exercise and sport.
“It has been very interesting to take part in the programme, as they have had us doing all sorts of unusual things.
“They even had us playing a game of wheelchair rugby on a ferry on the Thames!
“I don’t want to say too much and spoil it, but it will definitely be worth watching.”
Now living in Warwick, the 29-year-old is preparing for the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships after being selected for the GB squad which will compete at the home of the sport known as ‘Murderball’ in Vancouver, Canada, between September 17 and 26.
“There are two major events everyone wants to win in our sport, the Paralympics and the World Championships,” he said.
“Our first match is against the hosts, Canada, and it is already sold out so the atmosphere should be amazing.
“This is the last major event before 2012 and we want to win it, but it is going to be tough, there are no easy games.
“We already have a great squad, but there is a long way to go until 2012, and with the potential we have we are only going to get better.
“We finished fourth in the Paralympics in Beijing, you always strive to win gold that’s the target, but any medal would be a massive achievement.”
Sehmi’s journey to international recognition has been a remarkable rise after a car crash, in 2000, changed his life forever.
He said: “I broke my neck in a car crash in 2000 and I was in Stoke Mandeville Hospital for a year.
“By chance I met Bob O’Shea who was with the national wheelchair rugby team because his wife was a nurse at the hospital.
“They trained near the hospital and he asked me to come along, so six months later I found his number again and met up with them, and by 2002 I had been selected for the national team.
“It is a massive honour to represent your country, not many people can say they have played sport at that level.
“Every time I pull that jersey on I know that I have a whole country behind me, and that makes me very proud.”
As a Paralympic athlete from the region, Sehmi is an honorary ambassador for the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership for the 2012 Games and he hopes to use his position to inspire others.
“Everything we do, we do because we enjoy it and I am very lucky that I am passionate about what I do,” he continued.
“If others can watch me play and see that it is exciting and what the sport can do for them then that is fantastic.
“We want as many people to play as possible, we are a small country in comparison to some others, so we need people to get involved.”
Tom Clift, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership manager for the 2012 Games, said he hoped the achievements of athletes like Sehmi would help raise the profile of disability and Paralympic sport and inspire people in the region to engage with London 2012.
“What Mandip has achieved to date is phenomenal and we wish him all the best in the forthcoming World Championships and his quest for London 2012,” he said.
“We have always said we want to use the region’s proud Olympic and Paralympic heritage so that come Games time, our sub-region can get behind any local athlete who is competing as part of Team GB.
“And with two years to go until the Paralympics, projects like the Coventry and Warwickshire Legends of the Games, which has created the first ever Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame detailing over 100 athletes, will become more and more important as London 2012 comes to the forefront of people’s thinking.”