IAN SAGAR has retired from international basketball after winning two Paralympic medals in a career which marks him out as one of Barnsley’s most successful sportspeople of recent decades.
The 39-year-old made the decision after returning from four months away from his Italy-based family, due to the Tokyo Paralympics in which he captained GB to a bronze medal – having won the same in Rio 2016.
Sagar told the Chronicle: “When I got back, I didn’t understand what my little son was saying and everyone else had to translate for me.
“It broke my heart a little bit and contributed to the decision.
“I need to be around my family more.
“Then there was the fact that the European Championships start in December and it was just too soon for me.
“It was a hard decision to make.
“I couldn’t bring myself to say the words.
“I was hoping GB would just not select me so I would be pushed and not jump.
“But, in the end, I have told them I am retired but will attend a few camps as a mentor figure while I am getting my coaching badges.”
Sagar has been in a wheelchair since a motorbike accident as a teenager near his family home in Hoyland Common.
“I remember thinking in hospital that my life was ruined. But that accident has actually given me a fantastic life.
“I saw wheelchair basketball at Sheffield Spinal Unit. I have travelled the world and won two Paralympic medals, made some good money and I can say I am one of the best three-point shooters who has played wheelchair basketball.
“The accident wasn’t a bad thing.
“Having a disability is hard and there are down moments but I wouldn’t change it.”
Sagar finished fourth at the London Paralympics in 2012 then won medals in the last two games, while he has competed in the World Championships and won several European titles.
“London was fantastic. I will never forget the parade after the Games finished and looking at the sea of people.
“Big scary men who you would be cautious about walking past were on top of phoneboxes waving. It was like the entire country was smiling at us. We went to Buckingham Palace for tea with the queen, which wasn’t too shabby.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life, but we finished fourth and I was ashamed to go home to my mum because I felt I had failed.
“But we bounced back and got two medals in the next two Paralympics.
“Getting to a Paralympic final would have been the icing on the cake but it wasn’t to be.
“I have the shirts and medals that I can put up on the wall and tell my son that daddy used to be a champion.”
Sagar has committed to one more season of basketball for his local club Cantu while he has taken a full-time job at a metallurgy firm, having started in that industry as a teenager at Wombwell Foundry before his injury.
He initially moved to Italy to play professionally then had been driving 16 hours per week to Germany to play for a higher-level club side in preparation for Tokyo.
“I have had a pretty great career. I have played professionally in Spain, Italy, Germany and England and travelled with GB to nearly every continent so I have seen a lot of the world.
“I won the Champions League last season which was pretty much the only trophy left.”