A GUIDE dog owner from Worcester is preparing to compete at the World Blind Games in Birmingham next week.
Josh Murphy, from St John’s, is competing at the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) World Games, where there will be more than 1000 competitors from more than 70 nations taking part.
The Games, which are running from Friday (August 18) to August 27, will be held at the University of Birmingham, across the Edgbaston area and wider region.
Josh has been selected for the men’s Great Britain Goalball Team and his guide dog Horatio has been supporting him throughout his training.
Josh said: “I train once a week and have training with the Great Britain Team in Sheffield once a month.
“Horatio guides me to all my training sessions and has been with me every step of the way as I’ve been preparing for the Games.
“He is a very well-travelled dog.”
Josh first started playing Goalball in 2013, at the age of 14, at New College Worcester and then continued to play when he moved to the Royal National College for the Blind.
Josh said: “In 2019 I was selected for the Great Britain youth squad and then later that year I moved up to the senior squad.
“I describe Goalball to people as like human bowling. You are throwing a ball at people and trying to get it in their goal.
“Each team has three players, and the goal is nine metres wide.”
Josh qualified with his first guide dog Horatio, a Golden Retriever, in November 2018.
This will be the first Goalball competition that Horatio has attended with Josh, as the previous Goalball events he’s been to have been abroad.
The Goalball competition will be held in Coventry at Coventry Building Society Arena.
Josh added: “My family will be going, so they will be looking after him whilst I’m playing.
“I have missed him not being there at other events and have sometimes looked at photos of him if we’ve had a rubbish game, to cheer myself up.
“For me personally, at this Games, I would at least like to make it out of the groups and make it into the top eight – that would be great.
“If we finish in first place, we qualify for the Paralympics in Paris next year. It’s a massive opportunity for us.”