Welshman Jim Roberts captains Great Britain to wheelchair rugby gold at the Paralympic Games

Welshman Jim Roberts captains Great Britain to wheelchair rugby gold at the Paralympic Games

Welshman Jim Roberts has led Great Britain to their first ever wheelchair rugby gold at the Paralympic Games.

Team captain Roberts scored 24 tries as his side secured a tense 54-49 victory over the USA in the final out in Tokyo.

The European champions led from the start in a tight contest and then pulled away in a dramatic final quarter.

Great Britain had previously lost bronze-medal play-offs at the 2004 and 2008 Games.

Speaking to Channel 4, Roberts, from Welshpool, said: “What an amazing shift that was. I’m so happy for the guys – that was one to remember.

“I play to win every game I go into, that’s what I wanted to come for.

“We knew there were some amazing teams here. USA are a class act, I know some guys on that team very well, having played with some of them in the States.

“It was just amazing to meet them in the final and sort of get one over them. They always beat us in the major tournaments and it’s nice to put a nail in that one.”

It was sweet revenge for GB who had lost 50-48 to USA in the pool stage, their only defeat on the way to the final.

They beat New Zealand and Canada – with Roberts contributing 40 tries – and then overcame hosts Japan 55-49 in a thrilling semi-final, the skipper top scoring with 20 more tries.

Roberts, who was part of the GB side that finished fifth at Rio 2016, praised the support the team has received from home.

“My friends and family have sent me messages and it’s meant so much,” said the 33-year-old.

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“It’s so nice to wake up to that sort of thing and knowing everyone there is behind you.”

Asked about celebrating the gold, he replied: “I hope someone’s got some beer somewhere.”

Speaking about Roberts last week, GB wheelchair rugby chief executive David Pond said: “Jim is always creating, a bit like my new puppy – always enthusiastic and always in the way.”

No European team had ever won a medal previously in wheelchair rugby.

Former England and Lions hooker Brian Moore was clearly impressed by the performance from GB, describing it as “fantastic”.

He tweeted: “The last quarter of the final was more entertaining and tense than any of the Lions v Boks Tests.”

Japan defeated reigning champions Australia 60-52 in the bronze-medal match.

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