Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby has won its second match in the 2014 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships currently taking place in Odense, Denmark. The biggest tournament they’ve played since the 2012 Paralympic Games.
The squad were victorious playing against Finland this morning winning 54 – 31. The GB squad face tough competition in their group, which contains London gold medallists Australia, Canada, (who took silver), host nation Denmark, Belgium and Finland. They will next face Canada, Denmark and Belgium for a place in the knockout stage.
Playing hard in the Finland match was 25-year-old Ayaz Bhuta, whose training preparation for the championships coincided with Ramadan. Performance Director Lorraine Brown explained why she shaped his training to allow him to observe Ramadan.
“He is one of our critical players, so we were willing to manage that in a positive way, providing a bespoke diet and training plan for him. In this way he got reduced stress from being able to commit to his religion and also from knowing that he would be in the best possible shape for the Worlds.”
The gesture was not lost on Bhuta. “I’m just really grateful, we had a really busy schedule coming up to Ramadan and they gave me a lot of time off to be with my family and fast, and be part of the month. I’m just really grateful to them for letting me do that. I think other sports might have almost made you choose between one or the other, but this gives me the best of both worlds.”
Born with Roberts syndrome, which limits the growth of limbs and has given him a fixed elbow on his left arm, Bhuta is 3ft 7in and weighs about 42 kilos, around seven stone. The chance to play a full-contact, full-on sport at an elite level was an opportunity too good to miss.
“I used to play wheelchair basketball before this, and I used to be quite violent and dirty in that, but it’s a non-contact sport,” he comments, “When I got into rugby and found out you could just hit a chair and get away with it, I knew it was for me”.