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Totton wheelchair rugby gold medallist Aaron Phipps crowned Paralympian of the Year

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TOTTON’S Aaron Phipps and his fellow wheelchair rugby gold medal-winning teammates have jointly won the National Lottery’s Paralympian of the Year award.

After years of near-misses, Phipps and his teammates etched their names into the history books by storming to the top of the podium in Tokyo with victory over the USA in a final watched by more than a million UK viewers.

The performance delivered Team GB’s first gold in a team sport in the Paralympics, and it was the first for a European nation in wheelchair rugby.

Aaron with the Paralympian of the Year award
Aaron with the Paralympian of the Year award

Phipps will be in his 40s when Paris 2024 comes around, but the prospect of his daughters seeing him go for gold in person is enough to quash any talk of retirement.

“If my girls [Ella and Chloe] had been there, maybe I would have retired as a gold medal would have been a nice ending to the story,” he said.

“But I’d like to take them to a Games, and Paris is a lot closer than Tokyo. So I think I’ve got another three years in me.

“I’d have been happy with bronze this summer, so to go all the way was out of this world.

Aaron with teammates Jonathan Coggan, Kylie Grimes and Chris Ryan
Aaron with teammates Jonathan Coggan, Kylie Grimes and Chris Ryan

“It completely exceeded our expectations, and I don’t know if it will ever sink in. I keep looking at the medal and going, ‘I can’t believe we’ve done this’.”

An appearance on The Last Leg and lunch with Prince Edward has been part of Phipps’ whirlwind six weeks since returning home, and the GB team have now been crowned the inaugural National Lottery Paralympian of the Year.

The squad topped a public vote against more than 1,000 athletes on the National Lottery-funded UK Sport World Class Programme.

For more information about The National Lottery Awards, visit lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and follow the campaign on Twitter: @LottoGoodCauses #NLAwards

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