By Oli Dickson Jefford, Sportsbeat
Rhuddlan's Anastasia Blease revelled in a medal-winning start to her senior career at the European Para Championships in Rotterdam.
The wheelchair basketball star, 19, primarily still competes in junior events but was part of the squad that travelled to the Netherlands in late August, picking up a superb silver medal.
One of the least experienced players in the squad, Blease did not pick up a significant amount of minutes on court.
But the learnings she picked up from her experienced teammates are likely to prove invaluable as her burgeoning career continues to head in the right direction.
“You can’t expect to be coming on court and scoring 30 points in your first tournament,” she said.
Pole vaulting has always been in the blood for @sophieashurst_
But the @TeamSportsAid athlete wants to do more than just follow in her father's footsteps
Watch the full video to see how she is striving for the top 👇
— Pitching In (@PitchingIn_) August 31, 2023
“The players that are now doing that have been in my position when they first started, this is just the start of my journey.
“We play different roles in different teams. In the GB senior team, I am more of the team support and gain skills as I develop my basketball knowledge.
“When it comes to the junior players, I will be one of the more experienced players who will be on court a lot of the time, so it’s balancing those two things.
“This has been a great experience as it has been one of the first times the younger players in the squad have felt a bit more connected to the older players, because we’re all gelling as a team.
“We have a fantastic group of girls and we’re doing really well at the minute. We do a lot of team bonding as well, making sure we have a good time.”
The silver medal was not the only thing that Blease and the squad had to celebrate, with the result enough to qualify Britain a quota place for the Paralympic Games next summer.
With just under a year to go until action gets underway in Paris, Blease is determined to cement her place in the squad who will head to the French capital.
It's been a season to remember for Daniel Wolff 🤩
The @TeamSportsAid and Pitching In-funded athlete smashed his personal bests in the 800m and 1500m 💪
And after competing at the London Stadium, he is looking to go even quicker 👇 https://t.co/nArrkmShFG
— Pitching In (@PitchingIn_) September 8, 2023
“I’m very determined to get to Paris,” added the teenager, who is among 50 young athletes supported by a partnership between SportsAid and Pitching In, a multi-million-pound grassroots sport investment programme established by Entain.
“If I was good enough to be selected for the squad that qualified for Paris, I don’t see why I can’t be good enough to be selected for the team that goes.
“It’s been my dream to go to the Paralympics since I started basketball and I don’t want to wait another four years for that to come round again. This year I’m preparing to work really hard and get selected for that.
“I’ve got all my training in motion for that, I’m about to move to Loughborough for university so I’m going to be training every day, living and breathing basketball.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more