In August 2018, Amy Conroy and her team made history for British women’s wheelchair basketball, as the first female GB squad to secure a place in a world championship final. Fitpro caught up with Amy to hear about her training.
Fitpro: Amy, tell us about your journey into wheelchair basketball.
Amy Conroy: I lost my leg to cancer. After being in hospital for a year, I felt very isolated. I came back to school with a bald head, braces and glasses, and in a wheelchair; my confidence was quite low. I didn’t know anyone with a disability. When I started wheelchair basketball, the attitude was, “You have one leg, so what, you can still do anything you want to do.” Wheelchair basketball gave me confidence as a person, both on and off the court.
FP: What does your training currently consist of?
AC: We do three gym sessions a week and we’re currently in a strength-building phase. Sometimes we have to be quite innovative with what we can do with my prosthetic leg. I’m a massive fan of core routines – when you do crunches or sit-ups and you just smash out as many as you can. We do all the main compound exercises with the pushing and pulling. We do two of each programme – bench press and bench throws – which is when you take a percentage of your bodyweight to measure your strength, and fast twitch muscle movement to see how quickly you can throw the ball up. We will then do weighted dips and weighted pull-ups. There is particular focus on injury prevention, for example, YTW exercises where you spell out the letters with dumbbells, and skull-crushers (free weight exercises for the triceps) are great for shooting.
FP: Do you feel you’re a role model for young people out there?
AC: I guess it’s weird to say it about yourself, but I feel like I’m an advocate for the sport. I’m just so passionate about the top level. It is a skill and we do train hard. People who love football and talk about tactics; I feel like wheelchair basketball is the same and I just want more awareness and publicity for it. It’s a good sport that genuine sports fans can get into.
FP: What are some of the rules of the game?
AC: You can have 14 points on the court at once. It ranges from ‘1-pointers’ who might be paralysed and have less function, up to 4.5 pointers who might be an amputee. As a higher pointer with one leg, I still do exercises on my other leg, such as squats, which will help me with tilting in a chair, pushing through my leg. When you’re strapped into a chair, if you can use your hips to move around people more quickly, that’s an advantage.
A longer version of this interview was published in the Spring issue of Fitpro magazine. Not a member? Sign up today and receive your copy of Fitpro magazine every season. Visit: www.fitpro.com