Saunders determined to have a role at 2012 Paralympics
TYLER Saunders' Paralympic involvement might be restricted to a watching brief - but the wheelchair basketballer has vowed to play his part at London 2012 no matter what.
ON THE CUSP: Tyler Saunders was a reserve for the triumphant British team at the recent European Championships
The 28-year-old is currently on the cusp of Great Britain's senior men's team - acting as a reserve with the squad that recently won gold at the European Championships in Israel.
But he still has plenty to keep him occupied with the new domestic season set to start next month - Saunders turning out for Raiders Wheelchair Basketball Club.
And despite admitting that his exclusion from Israel means London 2012 will probably come too soon for him, Saunders is determined not to let the experience pass him by with future Paralympic adventures in his sights.
"I'm in the reserve team at the moment and I've been in the programme since 2008," said Saunders - speaking at the opening of the first new Lloyds TSB branch for seven years at Westfield Stratford City.
"London 2012 may be a bit too soon for me because I've been playing about five years so my experience isn't up there with the veterans but 2016 looks more a possibility for me and I'm going to train hard to achieve that.
"London or Rio, England or Brazil, it's not all bad, and if I'm not on the court with boys I'll be in the crowds cheering them on.
"Just thinking about 10,000 people all cheering for the home team, it fills me with excitement, let alone the rest of my team mates - it's going to be a momentous occasion.
"If I am not on the court then I will definitely do my best to help from the stands and soak up the atmosphere with Rio 2016 in mind."
With London 2012 fast approaching a number of wheelchair basketball players are returning from their temporary homes abroad to ply their trade in the domestic leagues.
And Saunders, who benefits from the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes initiative, is more than happy to test himself against the best; adamant it will only make him a better player.
"Our domestic league starts October and in preparation for that all of our squad guys are in playing in England this year," he added.
"Normally, a lot of our players go and play abroad in Europe where the league is more competitive but with the Paralympics coming up they are staying in England.
"And I can't wait to see how I do against them all and I am sure the extra competition is only going to make me a better player so I am all for it."
Lloyds TSB Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, provides support and funding to 344 emerging athletes all the way to London 2012 and beyond. Follow the future stars of TeamGB and ParalympicsGB at: www.lloydstsb.com/localheroes
© Sportsbeat 2011