Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby international Nick Cummins thought he would now be putting the finishing touches to preparations for the Paralympics, but the delay will not deflect him from his goal of seeing the GB team on the podium.
Team GB are ranked fourth in the world and will be aiming to make more progress with the Olympics and Paralympics rescheduled for Tokyo next year following the Coronavirus outbreak.
“We would have been kicking into gear now for the Paralympics,” said Nick from his home in Leicester.
“But we’ve had to adapt as a sport in the past, with cuts in funding and things like that, so I’m sure we’ll be able to adapt again and we’ll put out a competitive squad.
“We’re making steady progress towards the top three and we were confident we could go up for a medal this year. We’ll get some more time together when this is over and, if we use it wisely, keep our fitness and study the game, it might help us towards that. We’re still a developing team.
“At this point we would have just coming back from the Tokyo test event and then at the beginning of June there would have been the final tournament before the Paralympics with all the best teams there.
“The delay was inevitable really. My main concern was that it would be cancelled, so I think it was a bit of a relief because so much was up in the air.”
Like sportspeople everywhere, Nick is having to come to terms with a lack of match action as a member of the Tigers team backed by club partners Häfele alongside support from the Leicester Tigers Foundation and Matt Hampson Foundation, as well as with Team GB, but says he’s coping well with his new routine.
“We haven’t had a training session since early March,” he says. “We finished before the lockdown because it was felt a lot of people in the team might be particularly vulnerable. So we thought we’d err on the side of caution and stop.
“GBWR gave players some equipment and I had some of my own already so I’ve transformed part of my flat into a gym and it has been quite effective. Then I’m getting out to do some cardio stuff.
“You don’t get the same buzz as playing, but it’s good to get a workout.
“We’re training by ourselves but as soon as we’re able to I’m sure we’ll have training camps and sessions coming thick and fast to make up for lost time.”
As a team player with Tigers and GB, Nick also admits to missing the social side of sport.
“I miss is the competition, but also catching up with everyone and the enjoyment of the game,” he says.
“There’s only me, Dave Needham and Jack Coulson of the established players in the Leicester team who live locally and obviously GB players come from far and wide too. You’re used to seeing people a lot and spending time with them, but we’ve kept in contact through video calls and some of us play X-Box live which is good fun as well.
“The main thing for me is as long as I have a purpose then I’m happy. I can still train and have that purpose, I have my PhD so I have that purpose, something to occupy my mind.
“It’s not ideal and it’s going to take time, but I’m optimistic we’ll get back on track while also aware there are far worse things going on than what I’ve had to miss.”
In the meantime, Cummins has a PhD to finish, so filling his time is not going to be a issue.
“I was hoping that this year I was going to go to the Paralympics, hopefully get a medal and finish my PhD,” he says.
“Getting my PhD finished is still a realistic goal. I had to cancel a research trip but I’m making steady progress.”