Hope Valley's Maddie Thompson has a hunger for medals at Tokyo Paralympics
Maddie Thompson says she’s hungry for more success on the basketball court as she prepares to represent Team GB at this year’s Paralympics in Tokyo.
The Hope Valley 26-year-old will be co-captain of the British wheelchair basketball team for what will be her second Games, which get under way on August 24.
And she can’t wait to get out to Japan to try and get a much-coveted medal.
She said: “It’s an honour to be co-captain and will add an extra dynamic to my abilities on the court.
"But our main focus is to unite as a team and to go at least one better than the fourth place the team earned in Rio in 2016.
"We are ranked second in the world at the moment and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t want to go and get a medal and make history – we just want to go out there and be the best version of ourselves that we can be.”
Having been part of the Paralympic squad for the London Games in 2012, Thompson then missed out on Rio due to taking time out to start a family. Indeed her son, Zachary, was born just as the team were about to play their quarter-final match in 2016.
She said: “I pulled out of the selection process for Rio to have Zachary and he’s now an extra inspiration for me to go to Tokyo and do well – I’d love nothing more to be able to bring back a medal and hang it round his neck and that’s what will spur me on.
"It will be hard leaving him, of course, but we’ll be able to have lots of interaction via video calls and so on and he’ll be able to watch our games on TV.
"Every athlete knows you sometimes have to leave your children to go and compete on the world stage and I’m lucky to have been able to make so many memories with him over the last year.”
The COVID-19 pandemic left wheelchair basketball competitions on hold and Thompson and the GB team have since been unable to build on their silver medal in the 2018 World Championships in Hamburg.
But Thompson, who flies out to Japan a week before the Games after a training camp in Loughborough, ensured she spent the time not only making memories with her young family, but also on her mental and physical strength away from the court.
She said: “Coming off the back of the 2019 season and going into 2020 I was super excited so it was obviously a shame the Games got delayed, but the focus was on ensuring people stayed safe and it has been a difficult time for so many people.
"I was keen to turn a negative experience into a positive one where I could though and got to do lots of evening workouts and Instagram classes, plus improving my leadership skills and doing podcasts – things I wouldn’t usually have time to do.
"I learned more on the mental and psychological aspects rather than putting the physical side of things at the forefront like I usually do. I therefore think I’ve developed my skill sets well ahead of this year’s Games.”
Spectators won’t now be allowed to attend any events in Tokyo, with Thompson adding: “Of course the energy and support a crowd gives you will be missed – I’ll never forget what it was like in the London Games – but the main thing is everyone’s safety and we know we’ll have great support at home.”