SOUTHAMPTON'S Aaron Phipps admitted he was in dreamland as he helped Great Britain to a famous wheelchair rugby gold at the Paralympics in Tokyo, writes James Toney.

In a sport dubbed 'murderball' it needed the street smarts of a couple of British bruisers to commit the perfect crime and pull off a gold medal heist.

Great Britain had never won a Paralympic wheelchair rugby medal while final opponents the United States are three-time champions and a dominant force.

But for all their pre-match stars and stripes swagger, they couldn't cope with the Jim Roberts and fellow enforcer Stuart Robinson, a no-nonsense Afghanistan veteran with a hard as nails stare that says 'don't mess'.

Roberts top scored with 24 tries while Robinson weighed in with 14, as Great Britain took an early lead against the United States and never let it go.

In the group stages they were leading by five tries but finally slipped to a narrow defeat, this time - which the pressure turned up to the max - they held their nerve for a stunning 54-49 victory.

But if Roberts and Robinson hogged the headlines with their tries, Phipps's defensive work was key.

"They always get all the glory," joked the Totton star.

"I'm just so unbelievably proud of this team, they've been through so much together and we've all stuck at, we all had belief that something special could happen here.

"The odds were against us at times but we didn't care, I thought we could win a medal but to be here looking down at a gold one, that's beyond my wildest dreams."

Anyone who has seen the famous 2005 documentary film 'Murderball' knows about the sport, players using their wheelchairs as battered bumper cars in an end to end game repeatedly punctuated by thrills and spills.

Rules are straightforward - carry the ball over the try line by any means possible. Players can’t make physical contact with an opponent’s body, but other than that, anything goes.

In Chuck Aoki the USA have the sport's superstar, a scoring machine the British team brilliantly negated, forcing him to give up two decisive turnovers in a match in which the underdogs always had the momentum.

Just four years ago the British team faced an uncertain future after their funding was cut, only to be partially restored in the build-up to this event.

"Losing the funding was hard for everyone but we stayed together as a group, in many ways it could have been the best thing that happened, it made us hungry," added Phipps.

"We were not going to let that excuse get in the way of these dreams. It was hard but now everything seems worth it."

Meanwhile, Hampshire's Lucy Shuker and doubles partner Jordanne Whiley are just one win away from another Paralympic wheelchair tennis medal after sailing into the semi-finals of the women’s doubles.

The two-time bronze medallists, who are seeded fourth at Tokyo 2020, defeated Kgothatso Montjane and Mariska Ventner of South Africa 6-2, 6-0 in Sunday’s quarter-final and will face unseeded Chinese pair Wang Ziying and Zhu Zhenzhen in Monday’s semi-finals.

Despite admitting to a difficult start, the pair won eight straight games against their South African foes to continue their hunt for gold.

Shuker said: “I think it's the first time we've played against them as a pairing. They hit nice balls, they put some pressure on us.

“I think as soon as we found our game and put our pressure on and cut out the errors, we controlled it.”

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