Coach Rick Hoskins has helped wheelchair racers transform from shy teenagers into Paralympic medallists – now he wants to keep on matching ambition with dedication.
The Stockport Wheelchair Racing coach guided Andrew Small, who had never previously taken part in sport and had low self-esteem, to T33 100m bronze at Rio 2016.
Hoskins threw himself into the sport after an influx of interest inspired by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, having been a paramedic for 34 years.
He offers total commitment to the 12 athletes training under him, making a 100-mile round trip from Blackburn to the Stockport track five times a week to hone their talent.
“Success can happen very quickly – it totally depends on how dedicated the person is,” said the 61-year-old, whose athletes range from ages 12 to 67.
“I’ll put the effort in if they want to. I do all the support work I can at home, writing the programmes and deciding what level we’re at to work to a better standard.
“All I want people to do is come to the club and enjoy it. I don’t tell them they’re going to be the next David Weir or Tanni-Grey Thompson.
“But the ones who do like it, they have to train hard. It’s not an easy ride. I can see people going from nothing to Paralympians.”
‘MORE MEAT ON AN OXO CUBE’
TSB and Sport for Development charity, Sported, have come together to help local community groups like Stockport Wheelchair Racing use the power of sport to make a positive difference to young people and the communities they are part of.
With their support, Stockport Wheelchair Racing will become stronger over time, so they can help even more local young people.
Hoskins nominated Small for TSB’s Young Leaders programme, the racer aspiring to help people realise whatever life may throw at you, anything is possible.
After bagging bronze in Brazil, Small, who has cerebral palsy, went on to claim another third place in London at the 2017 World Championships.
Such recognition was inconceivable to Hoskins when he saw a reticent Small – now bidding for Tokyo 2020 selection – come through his club’s doors six years ago.
“I would never have thought we’d win medals, I just wanted to make disabled people – used to sitting in the corner at school – get involved in some sport,” he said.
“There’s no feeling like sitting at home 8,000 miles away, watching the boy you encouraged, shouted at and advised go over the line with a bronze medal.
“When Andrew first came down, he was so shy and I’d seen more meat on an OXO cube, he had no muscle whatsoever.
“He just took to training in a first-class way and what I like is that when he finishes his session, he rides around with one of the youngsters and encourages them.
“That shows he’s not just interested in what he’s doing, he cares about others.”
TSB, in partnership with Sport for Development charity Sported, is proud to help local community groups across the UK use the power of sport to make a positive difference to young people and the communities they are part of. #TSBLocalPride