Brown secures historic victory as first disabled gold medallist

Click to follow

Danielle Brown brought her bow of burning gold to the Yamuna Sports Complex yesterday. She brought her chariot of fire, too. When it came to singing the words of England's victory anthem, though, the young archer for whom the operational troubles of these XIX Commonwealth Games have been mere trifling incidentals managed to fluff the lines to "Jerusalem".

"I stayed up all night learning the words," Brown said, after her momentous gold medal-winning feat as part of England's victorious trio in the women's compound team event. "I had it down to a tee, and when I got on the podium my brain just scrambled and I couldn't remember a thing."

The 22-year-old law graduate from Lonsdale, North Yorkshire could be excused her momentary lapse. It is doubtful whether any athlete competing here in the Indian capital will have overcome greater odds to make it to the top of the medal podium.

Brown suffers from reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a neurological condition that causes excruciating pain in her legs. She usually makes her way around in her chariot, a wheelchair with the Union Jack emblazoned on each wheel, but can struggle over short distances on crutches.

When it came to the medal ceremony yesterday, she stepped on to the podium – and into the record books – unaided. Having started the week by becoming the first Paralympian to represent England in an able-bodied event at a Commonwealth Games, she was now the first disabled gold medal winner.

Not that Brown, a gold medal winner at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, was dwelling on that fact. "I've never really thought of it in those terms," she insisted. "I don't rank this achievement higher than winning at the Paralympics. The Paralympics was amazing and it was my first big competition. But winning here against able-bodied competitors is equally awesome."

Brown and her team-mates, Nichola Simpson and Nicky Hunt, clinched gold in style, falling just one point short of the world record as they beat Canada by 232 to 229. "Danielle earned her place on our team by a mile and she shot really well," Hunt said. "We are very proud of what she has achieved."

It proved to be a proud day all round for the British archery squad. The men's team – Duncan Busby, Liam Grimwood and Chris White – also struck gold. They beat India 231-229 in a dramatic final.