BARROVIAN wheelchair basketballer Tyler Baines has got by with a little help from his friends, managing to come back from heart-breaking spinal cord injury, writes Tom Harle.

The 17-year-old suffered a car accident on holiday in Spain and his parents were told their three-year-old son would never walk again.

As a teenager, Baines found wheelchair basketball and was a prodigious success at Carlisle Panthers, earning selection for Great Britain’s under-17 side at the tender age of 13.

With last year’s School Games gold paving the way for further glory, Baines is targeting the top of the podium at European and World Championships set for the next few years.

“It’s been pretty difficult dealing with disability but I’ve had friends and family round me all the time,” said the Furness College student.

"I’ve overcome it with them. Every since I’ve gone into basketball I’ve had friends in wheelchairs and that’s made it easier.

“My friends in the sport have been a big help. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t play.

“They’ve just helped me. I think I’ve become a better person through basketball.

“I think to get through something like I have, you need to be mature about it and be more grown up about it, not get down over it. It’s hard to do that but you’ve just got to do it and see what happens.

“I’d love to get to the top of my sport – it would be a dream come true. The Paralympics is where everyone wants to be and to get a medal there would be very, very good.”

His cause is also being helped by SportsAid and the Backing The Best programme, which offers critical financial help to talented young athletes who would otherwise face difficulties progressing through their sport’s system.

Backed by £5.5 million of National Lottery funding, Backing The Best presents annual awards of £5,000 per athlete to help with essential costs such as travel, accommodation, kit, nutrition and medical bills.

Baines was one of dozens of SportsAid athletes who attended workshops at Nottingham Racecourse in April, offering media training, nutrition advice, performance lifestyle guidance and support for parents.

The youngsters from all over the country were joined by Winter Olympian Elise Christie, who sung the praises of the programme.

“It was a really great day in Nottingham. It’s amazing to be a part of something that gives young adults the chance to shine,” said the triple short track speed skating world champion.

“I think that’s what is important about SportsAid – they don’t just give money, they help you develop skills.

“If I could have gone back and learnt that stuff before what happened to me, then I’d have been so much better prepared.

“I’ve come to SportsAid events four times and I always learn something new each time.

“SportsAid is a special charity because there are a lot of people who will support successful athletes, but SportsAid search for talent who can’t make it on their own.”

PLEASE LEAVE IN FINAL PAR – Backing The Best is helping talented young athletes facing the greatest financial pressure to pursue their sporting ambitions. The programme, managed by SportsAid for Sport England, is supported by National Lottery funding. Visit–work/talent/backing–the–best/ to find out more.