GREAT BRITAIN rugby league legend Martin Offiah has swapped his boots for wheels in Manchester to launch the BT Paralympic World Cup.
The 45-year-old got his chance to take part in an exhibition wheelchair basketball match at the Arndale Centre where the Paralympic World Cup kicks off for real next week.
He was joined by Channel 4′s That Paralympic Show presenters Olympic silver medallist Iwan Thomas and Rick Edwards, as well as Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock.
And despite finishing on the losing side, ‘Chariots’ Offiah was delighted with his first taste of wheelchair basketball.
“I used to play quite a bit of basketball when I was a youngster so it was good to get on the court,” said Offiah who scored an incredible 448 tries in 326 games in a stellar career.
“And then last year I competed in the BBC’s Dancing on Wheels television programme, but I’d never thought to combine the two.
“We started just shooting a few hoops but when we got into the wheelchairs I realised how tough it really is.
“I was a bit of a whizz on attack, but getting back was a little trickier.
“I know I’m going to be hurting tomorrow.”
Ruddock, a former footballer who represented Liverpool, Spurs and West Ham, admitted he was full of respect for the GB team.
“It was very tough on your arms and you don’t get any rest – it’s a really testing sport,” he said.
“I’d not done it before and I was surprised how hard it was on your arms. It was a good experience and I wish our teams all the best.”
GB men and women’s team members Jon Hall and Louise Sugden were among those showing Offiah how it’s done ahead of the competition next week.
The British men’s team kick off their campaign on Monday against France and will be desperate for revenge against the team who shocked them in last year’s World Championships in Birmingham.
Meanwhile their female counterparts will be looking to back up an impressive win against Japan last year as they take on the same opponents again, as well as reigning European champions Germany and Canada.