A University of Chester lecturer is thought to be the first person with a prosthetic leg to ever represent Great Britain at stand-up basketball after being selected to compete in a European championship this summer.
Steve Carrick has been chosen for the Great Britain 65 and over team, taking part alongside players without disabilities who have previously played professionally and at national and international level, in the Federation of International Maxibasketball Association tournament in Spain.
The championship will see more than 250 teams, in age categories ranging from 35 and over to 80-plus, from more than 40 countries, on the courts in Malaga.
Steve’s selection is opening up possibilities for people with a prosthetic leg to play and compete at the top level in stand-up basketball and other sports.
Already breaking new ground, he is a member of the Bradford Dragons local league basketball team, and again is thought to be the only person with a prosthetic leg playing in an England Basketball affiliated league.
Steve is also in contact with Basketball England to propose a central venue to develop stand-up basketball opportunities for people with disabilities.
Steve, who is 65 this year, said: “It is really exciting to be part of the International Maxibasketball tournament – it’s like the basketball Olympics for the older player – and also marks an interesting moment to raise awareness.
“I want more people to see that they can play basketball – and stand-up basketball at that. Wheelchair basketball is a fantastic sport for people with disabilities but there are more options for people with a prosthetic leg that shouldn’t be ruled out. People with a prosthetic leg can play all sorts of sport.”
He added that he would also like to see stand-up basketball at the Paralympics.
Steve, from Leeds, has been passionate about basketball throughout his life, first playing at 12 years old, and has always been active in a wide range of sports.
In his 50s, a problem was discovered with his nervous system, causing muscle wasting in his right leg and at 59 years old he took the decision to have his leg amputated below the knee. But this didn’t stop him from returning to his active lifestyle and the sport he loved – and he was shooting a basketball again, six to seven months after the operation.
He puts being able to take up the sport quickly again to always keeping fit and active – and a strong determination to keep himself motivated.
“It may sound strange but for me the only solution to be more active was to have my leg amputated – and it’s been a positive thing. It’s not easy, it’s an uphill battle, there’s a lot of pain, but if you are determined enough and have the right mindset, you will overcome it to return to the sport and activities you want to engage in.”
He added: “I can do as much as others my age, and I don’t think of myself as having a disability.”
Steve cycles and runs, completing a half marathon since the operation and running 10k in 54 minutes. He fits it all in with working as a senior lecturer in Art and Design at the University of Chester. He has lectured at the University for nearly two decades and shown his highly-acclaimed artwork at exhibitions across world.
He is now taking part in training sessions in Scotland and friendly matches in preparation for the Maxibasketball tournament.
As the team’s point guard playmaker and shooting guard, he is hoping to help steer the team to victory in the championship in Malaga, taking place from June 24 to July 3.