She may have started out as one of her team's more reserved characters but British wheelchair basketball ace Amy Conroy is hoping her newfound aggression will help propel her to Paralympic gold in Tokyo next year.
Conroy, a two-time Paralympian who was part of the side that narrowly missed out on bronze in Rio, admits she began her glittering career as a timid, introverted player who showed little emotion on court.
But the rapid assumption of the nickname ‘Tiger’ changed all that, unleashing a fresh streak of competitiveness that helped her and her team-mates win four consecutive European bronze medals and then silver at last year’s World Championships.
And with an important year on the horizon, Conroy says she wants to harness that aggression to go one better and help her ParalympicsGB side clinch an historic gold in Tokyo.
“I used to have the nickname of ‘Tiger’, but I think I’ve shaken that off now!” said the 26-year-old, speaking at a Sainsbury’s store in Norwich.
“We used to have a coach who was quite intense, strict and loud, and when I came in, I was very shy, timid and self-conscious of my disability.
“I was quite smiley on court and not very aggressive, and then I started to be called ‘Tiger’ to get me more aggressive and competitive.
“And it worked – now I hate losing and go for every loose ball.
“We’re just trying to be in the best shape we possibly can for Tokyo - be lean, be rapid, be strong, be fierce, be fast and just be quicker.
“I think a lot of what we need to do as well is to improve our confidence - it’s just about believing in ourselves more.
“We are training really hard and it’s going to be an intense year - it’s just about telling ourselves ‘yeah, we’re going to win’ and believing in ourselves.”
The prolific Conroy is someone who thrives off being on the big stage, helping herself to the most points of any player in the Great Britain side in three of their six games at London 2012.
The Norwich-born star also guided her country's Under-25 team to World Championship glory in Beijing in 2015 as co-captain, as well as forming an integral part of the first female GB senior squad to secure a place in the World Championship final last year.
ECWA NEWS - Amy Conroy assists Great Britain 🇬🇧 to a second win at the 2019 Women's European Championship, as they defeat Spain 🇪🇸, 56 - 29.— IWBF (@_IWBF) July 1, 2019
🎦 https://t.co/GVIcTundMR#wheelchairbasketball #ECWA2019 #ekrolstoelbasketbal2019 pic.twitter.com/OEGU7hxyIt
Now she wants to use that momentum to achieve success not just in Tokyo, but also beyond.
“Winning gold at a Paralympics is the epitome of any professional athlete’s career dreams - I personally wouldn’t be happy with anything less than a gold,” added an ambitious Conroy, who was helping to promote Sainsbury’s role as longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all.
“I’m going to give it everything this year to give everything I can for the team.
“It’s such an honour to represent Great Britain - every time you put on the jersey and feel the crowd, it’s always a Goosebumps moment and I don’t think that’s ever going to get old.
“I absolutely love wheelchair basketball, and I’m just going to keep playing for as long as I keep enjoying it and as long as we keep doing well.”