Wheelchair Basketball player Sophie Carrigill didn’t think her team was prepared to reach the Paralympic podium three years ago – now she’s preparing to beat the lot.

The Leeds-raised athlete, 25, is thrilled with the exponential growth she’s seen in her sport and team since Great Britain’s fourth-place finish in Brazil.

Since then, they moved into an elite training facility, won silver at the World and European Championships and added new talent eager to make the Paralympic roster at next year’s Tokyo Games.

“We weren’t ready in Rio. We didn’t deserve a medal at the time,” said Carrigill, 25, speaking at a Sainsbury’s store in Wakefield.

“Fourth is the worst position to come because you’ve made it to the semi-final, then you play in a bronze-medal game, then you lose that.

“It was the best performance we’ve ever had at the Paralympics but just missing out was heart-breaking.

“We’re a completely different team now. We’ve had such a quick succession of people improving.

“We’re doing whatever it takes to make sure we’re in the best position to bring home a medal. That’s the goal.”

Great Britain’s silver medal performance at the European Championships in July was their best-ever and other teams are beginning to take notice.

But Carrigill, who has a Masters in sports psychology from the University of Worcester, won’t settle for second best over the next 12 months.

“People want to play us and beat us now,” she added.

“It’s a privilege to be in that position.

“You can’t say, ‘We’re doing fine. We’re second in the world, that’s OK. It’s not. We want to do better.”

Since missing out in Rio, British Wheelchair Basketball moved into a new state-of-the-art Sheffield-based facility in the English Institute of Sport.

In addition to a bespoke court and gym, the national teams have access to physiotherapists, nutritionists, performance lifestyle coaches and sports psychologists.

The marginal gains are more evident than ever for Carrigill and her team, but no amount of funding or equipment can match the determination she has from within.

The recent triumphs of world athletics champions Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Dina Asher-Smith are helping her on her way, but there’s no doubt the basketball star’s unwavering motivation comes from within.

“New players are coming through so you’re not secure. It’s good to have some competition and rivalry because that’s how you push each other and make yourselves better,” added Carrigill, who was helping to promote Sainsbury’s role as longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all.

“Any woman who is out there challenging the norm is someone I aspire to be like.

“I want to do something that stands out. That makes me proud.

“I love my life and this amazing opportunity to compete for my country.”

Sainsbury’s is the longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers live well for less has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit https://www.about.sainsburys.co.uk/