World Championship: GB's Ian Sagar talks about medal hopes

2014 Men's Wheelchair Basketball World Championship

  • Venue: Incheon, South Korea
  • Date: Saturday, 5 to Monday, 14 July

I'm now one of the stalwarts of the Great Britain wheelchair basketball team and even though we are two-time European champions, I don't feel under any extra pressure going into the World Championship. 

GB's last World Championship medal was silver in 2002 and although the team won bronze at the Athens and Beijing Paralympics, we were fifth at the last Worlds in 2010 and then fourth at the London Paralympics.

We may have won the Europeans in 2011 and again last year but the big teams like Australia, USA and Paralympic champions Canada aren't there  and we know we need to show we can do it on the world stage.

At club level, my team Briantea 84 were champions of Italy and that gives you that winning mentality. When you have players who are used to winning you are unwilling to accept anything else.

We need to start well in our first set of group games against Mexico, Argentina and the hosts South Korea so we can finish as high as we can for the second set of group games where we will come up against teams who will be challenging for medals.

Wheelchair basketball: GB star Ian Sagar on life playing in Italy

A medal of any colour is hard to get so anything would be great and make all of the sacrifices and hard work I have put in worthwhile.

I want to win and I will do my damndest to win. I put my life on hold ahead of London and to have just missed out on a medal still hurts now, almost two years later so I really want to put that right and get the recognition on the world stage.

But ultimately we know that everything is geared towards Rio and if we get a good result in South Korea, which starts on Saturday, that shows we are on the right road.

Team selection was tough and even though you have been in the team before, ahead of the selection meeting it is like when the drug testers call - you know you haven't taken anything you shouldn't but you are still a bit nervous.

GB's Phil Pratt in action

Phil Pratt is one of the newcomers selected in the Great Britain squad for the World Championship

We are a tight-knit group and you are basically vying for your place against your best mates for a spot on the team.

It is a strange situation but it doesn't breed bitterness and resentment - we know the situation and it makes you come back fighting and playing better. Competition makes people try harder and makes the team stronger.

The squad this time has a few newcomers and I've been training a lot with one of them - Phil Pratt. I think the two of us will be playing a lot together in the tournament and he will be one heck of a player.

Ian Sagar facts

Born: 29/03/82

Had motorcycle accident in 1999

Missed out on Beijing Paralympics but won European bronze in 2009 and golds in 2011 and 2013

Plays club basketball with Italian side Briantea 84, winning the Italian League in 2014

It will be good to see how we get on because we have some different line-ups now. We have 12 international players and a very deep squad and I don't think many other nations have that depth.

Having that depth definitely makes a difference in the knockout stages when you have players who have all had court time and you haven't had to depend on just a few.

This time around, I am rooming with Simon Munn, who is the veteran of the team  and won world silver with GB in 2002.

Within the group, Simon is a big loud joker and on the court he is a big angry man, but off the court he is a very gentle, quiet gentleman.

We both play our club basketball in Italy so we've picked up the coffee habit while we've been over there.

A lot of the others won't drink Italian coffee because it is so strong and it blows their heads off but the Italians call British coffee mucky water.

We tend to go for coffee after our matches so Simon has taken a coffee maker and some coffee - we both enjoy drinking it but I think I will be the one making it!

Tournament schedule

Sat 5th: v Argentina (01:00 BST)

Sun 6th: v Korea (04:15 BST)

Mon 7th: v Mexico (08:45 BST)

Tues 8th-Thurs 10th: Second Group games

Fri 11th: Play-offs for 9th-16th

Sat 12th: Quarter-finals

Sun 13th: Semi-finals, play-offs for 5th-8th

Mon 14th: Final, 3rd/4th play-off

(Ian Sagar was speaking to BBC Sport's Elizabeth Hudson)