AFTER losing a foot and suffering pelvic and back injuries in a work accident Russell Young of Barnstaple thought his days of active sport were over. But now, at the age of 40, he has his sights on a place in the British team at the London 2012 Paralympic

AFTER losing a foot and suffering pelvic and back injuries in a work accident Russell Young of Barnstaple thought his days of active sport were over.

But now, at the age of 40, he has his sights on a place in the British team at the London 2012 Paralympics.

Russell has been invited to join the Great Britain Development Programme, which is working towards the 2012 games, in the sport of sitting volleyball.

A former goalkeeper with Shamwickshire football team in Bideford, 20-stone Russell was affectionately known as Sumo in his playing days.

But that came to an end after his accident, which cost him a foot and left him with pins still in his pelvis and his back, he said.

"It took me a long time to get back into sport. It was watching the Paralympics which made me try again. Then I went to a Para Talent Day in London, initially to do swimming. But there were men there from the Services who had been injured in Afghanistan and they were just too good. So I was persuaded to try sitting volleyball and invited to a Great Britain training weekend in Kettering. I enjoyed it and made a lot of new friends. Now I am delighted to have been invited to join the Great Britain Development Programme."

This will mean training trips to the centre for English volleyball in Kettering and to Bath as well as his regular visits to the North Devon Leisure Centre, said Russell. And as he was currently only doing voluntary work he would be grateful to anyone who could help with sponsorship.

Sitting volleyball was a little known sport. It did not involve wheelchairs, he explained. Players had to sit on the floor to play and it took good upper body strength.

With a shortage of players there was a keenness to get more people interested, both men and women, and eight new centres would be opening across the UK in the next 18 months so people could get involved, said Russell.

Anyone interested in hearing more about the sport can contact Matthew Rogers at the English Volleyball Association in Loughborough on 01509 631699 or e-mail info@volleyballengland.org.