Welshpool wheelchair rugby ace Jim Roberts stars as Great Britain beat Canada in Paralympic opener

Welshpool wheelchair rugby star Jim Roberts scored 27 tries to lead Great Britain to a confident 50-47 victory over Canada in their Paralympic opener.

Roberts was part of the ParalympicsGB side who finished fifth at Rio 2016, a global standing they have since upgraded to fourth at the 2018 World Championships.

And Britain’s quest for a first-ever medal in one of disability sport’s most iconic disciplines – called murderball when it was founded – began with victory in Group B.

“The performance was good,” said Roberts, 33, who is able to train full-time and benefit from world class facilities, technology, coaching and support teams thanks to National Lottery funding.

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“It was very physical, I’ll probably have some bruises in the morning from that one! They’re a class act of a team to play against and one of my favourites to play.”

The Welsh star’s side held Canada, led by Zak Madell who scored 31 tries, at arm’s length throughout and took a 25-22 lead into half-time.

But thanks to a 14-try contribution from 3.5 ace Stuart Robinson, they held a two-point advantage for the final three minutes and sealed a morale-boosting victory.

They face New Zealand next in their second group game, with the top two teams in groups of four advancing to the semi-finals.

Earlier in the day at the Yoyogi National Stadium, reigning champions Australia went down to debutants Denmark, one of the shocks of the early stages of the whole Games, and Roberts feels anything is possible.

“It’s been a splintered build-up, it’s been annoying, not being able to get the competition, and no-one’s seen what the other teams will bring,” he said.

“The tournament’s wide open, it will be one of the toughest tournaments there’s ever been at the Paralympics which is great for the sport.”

Elsewhere on opening day in Tokyo, there was disappointment for Ponthir cyclist James Ball in the Izu velodrome.

The 30-year-old failed to finish alongside pilot Lewis Stewart in the tandem 4000m individual pursuit for the visually impaired.

Ball’s ParalympicsGB team-mate Stephen Bate and Adam Duggleby went on to win silver, one of five medals for the nation on the first day of sporting competition.

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen


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