Warrior-like and aggressive on the court, softly-spoken and convivial off it – Wheelchair Basketball player Madeleine Thompson believes the experience of parenthood can help inspire her to Paralympic gold in Tokyo.

Thompson is a five-time European bronze medallist, becoming the youngest ever athlete to represent Great Britain at her sport at just 13 in 2008 before going on to make her Paralympic debut at London 2012.

She was last year part of a team who achieved their greatest ever finish at the World Championships in Hamburg, scooping silver after losing 66-41 to the Netherlands – their long-term nemesis – in the final.

But Thompson, who has developed a reputation for her unwavering tenacity and visibly physical nature on the court, believes becoming a parent in 2016 can provide her with the ammunition to get revenge in Tokyo next summer.

“My biggest interest and motivation is my three-year-old child, Zachary,” said Thompson, speaking at a Sainsbury’s store in Middlesbrough.

“The thought of winning a medal in Tokyo and putting it round his neck is what keeps me going – I just think that would be the biggest thank you for all the time I’ve stayed away from him.

“On the days when you’ve gone out in the rain and we’re pushing up and down the court, I just think he’s what I want to do it for and he’s what I want to aspire to.

“He’s sacrificed so much and I’ve sacrificed so much time being away from him, that I really think it’s a team effort when we go out there and play.

“It was quite tough at the start emotionally, but now he’s really understanding of it and always sits there and cheers me on.”

Thompson’s rise has been a rapid one, claiming bronze medals at the European Championships in 2009 and 2011 and then being part of a team who placed seventh at London 2012.

But while becoming a mother prevented her involvement in Rio in 2016, the Sheffield Steelers ace came back with a bang, helping Great Britain finish second in Hamburg last year with her characteristic passion and aggression.

With Tokyo on the horizon, she is hoping her love for the physical side of the game can help propel her team to yet another medal on the greatest stage of all.

“Off court, I’m described as quite motherly and thoughtful, whereas on court I just love the passion that you can have - being vocal and a leader,” added Thompson, who was helping to promote Sainsbury’s role as longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all.

“I love that it’s a really aggressive sport - it’s what drew me into playing for such a long time, and I absolutely love clattering people and that physical side of it.

“It just shows you can be a physical woman and be strong in a chair, and I just think it’s really empowering.

“Tokyo will be a challenge for us – it’s just exciting to know where this team is and we all have 100 per cent trust that we can go out there and perform our best.”

Sainsbury’s is the longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers live well for less has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit https://www.about.sainsburys.co.uk/ and http://paralympics.org.uk/partners