A talented former running basketballer, Fi had already amassed a great deal of on court success having represented the South East and Central England Women’s Basketball Team (1996) and secured the University of Brighton a highly coveted spot in three National Finals of the British Universities Sports Association Basketball League (1994, 1996, 1997).
In 2011, thanks to the support and encouragement of her Spinal Unit, the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), the Back Up Trust, and a persistent friend, Fi returned to court and found herself hooked on wheelchair basketball.
Fi made her major international debut for the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Team at the World Championships in Toronto in June 2014 and, the oldest member of the team at 40, she helped them to a best ever finish of fifth. GB Head Coach, Miles Thompson stated, ‘the energetic Fi Tillman brings with her energy and a voice that sparks not only herself but the rest of the team, she is a great component to have in any team.’
In the same year Fi Tillman was also part of National Paralympic Day – a chance to celebrate the London 2012 legacy and raise money for charity. Spectators at National Paralympic Day 2014 featuring the Mayor of London’s Liberty Festival were treated to a world class Wheelchair Basketball match, drawing the event to a spectacular close. The GB team faced an incredibly tough competition in their Dutch opponents, who were in top form having added a bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships to their podium place from London 2012.
Tillman relished the chance to be in the thick of the action at the scene of so much British success at London 2012 before bidding to create her own Paralympic memories at Rio 2016.
“I think it’s fantastic that we get to take on such a good side like the Netherlands and to have the opportunity to play them at home where the Paralympics took place in front of hopefully a sell-out crowd will be amazing,” said Tillman.
Fi Tillman admits taking part in the 2014 National Paralympic Day went down as a career highlight – although she’s adamant there are bigger and better milestones to come yet, especially coming into a Paralympic Year.
“Athletes like myself simply cannot undertake these journeys without support from schemes like the GLL Sport Foundation and SportsAid. Our sports do not often hit the headlines and your funding is pivotal in allowing us to pursue our goals, dream, hopes and ambitions.”
2016 is a big year for Paralympic Sport, and Fi Tillman has made a flying start by being selected for the 2016 Women’s League All Star game.
On Sunday 28th February, with 192 days until the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, wheelchair basketballers from across the UK will light up Nottingham Wildcats Arena in the stunning finale to the 2015/16 Women’s League season.
With selected players and coaches from across the League’s three divisions taking to court one last time, the UK’s second women’s wheelchair basketball All-Star Game is set for another gripping battle between East and West.
BWB Talent Development Officer Simon Fisher said: “The Women’s All-Star Game is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the talent within the League; the Game allows players that have progressed through the Women’s Talent Development session to play alongside their Great Britain role models. Congratulations to all those who have been selected, I know it will be a fabulous event for all concerned.”
On the domestic scene, Fi has had much success playing with the GLL & Aspire London Titans family: winning Women’s League Silver (2013), Bronze (2014, 2015), Premier League Bronze (2015), and EuroLeague 3 Bronze 2015.
Away from the basketball court, Fi has also had much success with weightlifting and is the British Weightlifting Disabled Association Open Bench Press title Holder in the Female 67kg Category 2015.
It will certainly be an exciting year for Fi and we at the GLL Sport Foundation wish her the best of luck in all her sporting competitions coming up!