World Wheelchair Basketball: GB field debutants born 24 years apart

Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball athlete Fi Tillman
Fi Tillman is the oldest member of the GB squad playing in Toronto

Twenty-four years separate the two newcomers on the GB women's wheelchair basketball team for the World Championships, which start on Friday.

Fi Tillman, 39, and Joy Haizelden, 15, are the oldest and youngest members of the GB team playing in Toronto.

"It's weird to think I was 24 when Joy was born - it's almost like a lifetime," Tillman told BBC Sport.

"But age has always been irrelevant to me. I'm still young in terms of my journey and how much I have to learn."

Tillman was an accomplished able-bodied basketball playerexternal-link and started playing wheelchair basketball in 2011 after she was injured in a road accident.

Now she has made the basketball court her home once more.

"Watching GB perform at London 2012 really inspired me," she explained.

"I was a club player at the time, but seeing such a phenomenal team of girls made me set my aspirations really high.

"Running basketball has skills that are transferable: the support and the teamwork.

"Wherever you go in the world, the court will be the same dimensions, the hoop will be the same size and the same height, that's the same in basketball and wheelchair basketball."

While most of her team-mates train full-time as part of the centralised programme in Worcester, Year 10 student Haizelden combines international duties with her school work at Kings School near Southampton.

Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball athlete Joy Haizelden
Haizelden is the youngest member of the GB squad

"When I started wheelchair basketball I just wanted to play in the league and win some matches," said the talented teenager, who helped the GB Under-25s to European silver last year.

"I thought it would be fun. I never expected to be competing for GB at such a young age, but we don't compare each other's ages, we just play."

Great Britain are the current European bronze medallists and with new coach Miles Thompson in charge, they will be looking to improve on their seventh-place finish at the Paralympics.external-link

"The mood is really positive," added Tillman. "Our aim is to get into the semi-finals and take it from there."

GB squad: Sophie Carrigill (20, Wakefield), Charlotte Moore (15, Coventry), Claire Griffiths (34, Buckinghamshire), Fi Tillman (39, East Sussex), Louise Sugden (29, Wokingham), Laurie Williams (22, Manchester), Joy Haizelden (15, Southampton), Helen Turner (36, Surrey), Helen Freeman (24, Watford), Judith Hamer (23, Exeter), Amy Conroy (21, Norwich), Maddie Thompson (19, Derbyshire).

All of Great Britain's matches are available to watch live on the 2014 World Wheelchair Basketball Championship website.external-link