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Wheelchair motocross world champion Lily Rice calls for Paralympic event

The 15-year-old says WCMX should be treated the same as Olympic sports BMX and skateboarding.

Lily Rice on Ramps skate park in South Wales (John Phillips/Getty Images for National Lottery)
Lily Rice on Ramps skate park in South Wales (John Phillips/Getty Images for National Lottery)

By Max McLean and Edd Dracott, PA

Wheelchair motocross world champion Lily Rice has called for her sport to be included in the Paralympics.

The 15-year-old, who won the Women’s WCMX World Championships in Cologne earlier this year, said her sport is no different to BMX or skateboarding – both of which will feature at the Olympics in Tokyo next year.

“I don’t see myself as different from BMX or skateboarders, we’re all the same,” Rice told the PA news agency.

“Obviously we’re riding different things, but if BMX and skateboarding can go into the Olympics then why can’t WCMX go into the Paralympics?”

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(John Phillips/Getty Images for National Lottery)

WCMX sees competitors in wheelchairs performing tricks to impress a panel of judges, an event similar to skateboarding which becomes an Olympic sport for the first time next year.

Rice began riding three years ago and shot to fame two years ago when she became the first female in Europe and second in the world to pull off a wheelchair backflip.

Rice said the acceptance of BMX and skateboarding at the Olympics helps her case for WCMX, which she said is becoming more well known but will need riders to work with “the people higher up” to take it to the Paralympics.

“The other thing is there are no competitions going on in the UK and there’s only just starting to be competitions going on in Europe,” she added.

“They’ve mainly all been in the US, and because WCMX is only a grassroots sport it’s quite hard to get funding for it in general really.”

Rice does not receive funding to travel and compete in these foreign competitions, instead relying on her own funds with the help of her parents.

“The wheelchairs alone can go from £4,000 to £6,000 so they’re pretty expensive, and then we’ve got all the component parts and if you break a part then you have to get that done,” she said.

“It’s quite hard to raise money to get a WCMX chair – it doesn’t get funded for by a lot of sports grants because they only do like, a couple of hundred pounds.”

The Welsh teenager was speaking at an event celebrating the positive effect of National Lottery funding on young people, held at Ramps Skatepark in Llanelli, South Wales.

“Because of the lottery funding, to help those skate parks be built and grow them, it means I can get to experience different styles of park and different styles of riding, and my sport will get more well known,” said Rice.

“Without the National Lottery funding I wouldn’t have been able to develop and be as good as I am now.”

The 25th anniversary event was made to celebrate £3 billion raised by the National Lottery specifically to help young people since the game’s inception in 1994.

PA

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