Earlier today on Facebook, British Wheelchair Basketball (BWB) announced that Paralympian Josie Cichockyj died yesterday. She was fifty years old.
BWB CEO Charlie Bethel is quoted on the organization’s website as saying, “Josie had an inspirational career for Great Britain and turned her passion for playing to coaching where she inspired and developed people to reach their potential. Her contribution, lively personality and contribution will be sadly missed. My condolences and those of the staff go to Sandra, her family, and Manchester Mavericks.”
Cichockyj was a multi-sport athlete. She played wheelchair basketball, tennis, table tennis, and participated in athletics, while competing at the 1984, 1988 and 1996 Summer Paralympics. She only missed the 1992 Summer Paralympics because her Great Britain women’s national wheelchair basketball team failed to qualify for the Barcelona hosted games.
A wheelchair marathon racer, she competed in several editions of the London Marathon, winning her class in 1989. During her marathon career, she also won the Leeds, Gloucester, Ottawa and Brussels Marathons. In shorter distances between 100 and 5,000 meters, she held an astonishing 28 national records, and a world record in 5,000 meters. She qualified for the finals in four different distances at the 1984 Summer Paralympics, just out of medal place in the marathon with a fourth place finish.
The wheelchair basketball player captained the women’s national side from 1989 to 1992. Cichockyj competed at the 1988 and 1996 Summer Paralympics in the sport, with a best finish of sixth at the 1996 Games. She assisted her team in winning a bronze medal at the 1995 Netherlands hosted European Championships, and bronze at the 1997 Spanish hosted European championships. Cichockyj was active on the national level for many years in the national league, playing for teams that included the Bradford Bears, Sheffield Eagles, Runcorn Raiders and Manchester Mavericks. Late in her career, she was the head coach for the Mavericks.
As a wheelchair tennis player, she was ranked in the ATP World Wheelchair Tennis Tour, won the LTA National Doubles, was runner up in the LTA National Singles. She won several open events in her tennis career including the New York Indoor Tennis Championships, Dallas Tennis Championships and Israel Open Tennis Championships.
Competing in table tennis, she represented Great Britain in the sport at the 1984 Games. She also managed wins at the DSE National Singles, DSE Doubles Single and DSE Doubles Single.
Outside of playing, Cichockyj was also involved in sport administration and promotion of disability sport. She was the first woman to be elected to the national executive Council for the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association, where she also served as the Publicity and Liaison Officer. She was the editor for Athletic Challenge, a disability sport magazine. She served as the County Disability Sport Officer for the Greater Manchester Sport Partnership. She has served as the Chairperson, Treasurer and team manager for Kirklees Sports Association for Disabled. Cichockyj was also active in visiting schools in Great Britain to share her story with young students.