Wheelchair rugby stars win championships

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A Wakefield College student who took up wheelchair rugby when he broke his leg has helped England win a European championship in the sport.

Tom Helliwell also finished as top scorer with 102 points at the International Wheelchair Rugby League European Championships in Medway, Kent, last month.

Mr Helliwell, who is a student with the college’s rugby league development centre, is now trying to promote wheelchair rugby as a more mainstream sport.

He said: “I became involved with wheelchair rugby after I broke my leg a couple of years ago and started playing with Leeds Rhinos Rugby League Wheelchair team.

“This then led me to being called up for trials with the national team, which eventually resulted in my participation in the European championships.

“Initially I was quite nervous but then took everything in my stride and really enjoyed the whole experience. I really want to see the sport become more mainstream because anyone above the age of 16 can take part.”

Wheelchair rugby is a five-a-side indoor sport that involves tagging opponents. It is open to both wheelchair-bound and able-bodied players.

Mark Applegarth, head coach of the college’s rugby league squad, said: “As a college we’re immensely proud of Tom and his participation in the wheelchair rugby league competition.

“For him and the team to perform as well as they did is something very special indeed.

“We will continue to support Tom in his endeavours and hope his achievements put wheelchair rugby league in the spotlight and encourage more people from college to participate.”