Paralympic profile: Steve Brown, wheelchair rugby
Great Britain’s Wheelchair Rugby captain Steve Brown has a wicked sense of humour. When a Blue Peter presenter took part in a training session with the squad two years ago, he advised him to “lean forward when you’ve got the ball, to protect it.” Blue Peter shouldn’t have taken that tip at face value.
“When you lean forward, all your weight’s at the front of the chair, you’re not stable,” he told The Independent. When a reporter trained with the squad earlier this year, he tried the same trick again. “I smacked into him from behind and he went flying. Supermanning across the court! Superb! Never made it on to the telly for some reason.”
Brown, from Sittingbourne, was 23 and working in Cologne, Germany in 2005 when he fell off a first floor balcony. He landed on his backside, but was looking skywards, so his head went backwards as he landed, like whiplash but one that broke his neck and trapped his spinal cord. He was paralysed from the chest down, instantly, and his use of his hands have been affected too.
More recently, during a match, he was hit simultaneously by two opponents, and fell forward out of his chair and broke his sternum and four ribs on an opposing player’s knees. “I was in hospital for six weeks,” he said, laughing. For most people, it might be a big deal.
Wheelchair rugby, widely known as murderball, is by far the most intense and injury-prone sport of the Paralympics, and probably the Olympics too, but Brown doesn’t see it that way. “Ballerinas get injured too.”
Following his accident, he was eventually transferred from Germany to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games. It was his dad who took him to watch wheelchair rugby a few weeks later. It was quite an awakening. “I didn’t have that much confidence in what I was doing. I was just trying to learn how to stay in my chair, and keep my balance,” he said.
Brown’s injuries mean he has no control over the muscles in his torso, crucial to maintaining balance. “And there were these guys, in the same situation as me, smacking into each other, trying to knock each other out of their chairs. They were miles ahead of me.”
Undaunted, he took up the sport almost immediately, and was unlucky not to make the Great Britain squad for the Beijing Olympics. He did, however, lead a parade through London on the team’s return, as one to look out for at London 2012. They were right. Now Brown is the team captain.
He is also one of those instantly likeable people, and rather handsome.
If wheelchair rugby proves to be a jewel in the crown of Channel 4’s Paralympic coverage, as the broadcaster hopes it will, his is a face you will be getting used to.
The team have finished agonisingly in fourth place in the last two Games, and desperately hope to go one better this time. It is the Australians, Canadians and Americans that stand in their way. They had better look out.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal joins Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Sami Khedira
Mario Balotelli takes 50 per cent pay cut to join Liverpool as Samuel as Eto’o waits in the wings if deal falls through
Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
Click here for the full story." title="When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Click here for the full story." width="88" height="52" />Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
- 1 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for beauty pageant
- 2 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians