HOPE Valley’s Maddie Thompson was sitting her maths GCSE when Great Britain’s women’s wheelchair basketball team won BT Paralympic World Cup gold for the first time ever last year.
And, having achieved an A in that exam, the 17-year-old is determined to help Britain pass an even tougher test in retaining their World Cup title in Manchester this month.
Thompson played her part as Britain reached the final 12 months ago but with no alternative dates available for her maths exam she was forced to miss the 63-52 final win over Germany.
Britain will face Germany once again however, but with Japan and Canada replaced by Paralympic and world champions America and Australia, Thompson knows they have a sizeable task on their hands.
“Obviously it was sad to miss the final last year but you need your education and that was the only game I missed in the tournament,” said Thompson.
“It would be a great achievement to win again this year and I believe in all the girls that we can do it. It would be two in a row if we were to win and I’d love to beat Germany again.
“I think USA will be the toughest challenge, they won gold at the last Paralympics in Beijing in 2008, but all the girls will be so up for playing against them.
“They are a very quick team and they also have excellent technique as well as being well drilled, but they are beatable.”
Thompson did manage to catch the end of the World Cup final last year – rushing from her exam to take a place in the stands at the Manchester Regional Arena.
Unlike last year, Britain have the small matter of the London 2012 Paralympics three months after and Thompson is vowing to take it as a trial run.
“We were so proud of each other last year and it showed us that all the hard work we had put in paid off,” said Thompson.
“Watching the final was a really good experience because it showed how far the team was coming along and the atmosphere in the team was one I will never forget.
“I think playing America this year will be a massive indicator for the team as to where we are before the Paralympics and we are all training for it as if it is the Paralympics.”
The BT Paralympic World Cup is taking place in Manchester from May 22-26 with elite international athletes competing in athletics, football seven-a-side and wheelchair basketball. Go to www.btparalympicworldcup.com for tickets and more information