By Greg Miles
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Sittingbourne’s Steve Brown happy to spread the message of his story
Steve Brown’s life was transformed when he was paralysed from the chest down in June 2005.
He was working at a hotel in Germany when he fell from a balcony and broke his neck.
He recovered at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and in October 2005, just months after his injury, took up wheelchair rugby at the Kent Crusaders.
It wasn’t long before he became a key player for the Crusaders, earning him national recognition and the captaincy of the ParalympicsGB team last year.
Visit www.kentsport.org/disability for more information about disability sports – including wheelchair rugby, also known as murderball – in Kent.
Also, see the website www.paralympics.org.uk/sportsfest to find out about the Sports Fest in Guildford, Surrey, on Monday and Tuesday.
Life post-Paralympics is taking some getting used to for wheelchair rugby star Steve Brown.
No longer does his phone ring the second his latest soundbite has appeared on national radio, nor does he get dozens of texts about his every television appearance or when his face is splashed across giant billboards.
That, quite simply, is the price of fame, such has been the regularity of his name, face and voice in the limelight – not that he minds.
The 31-year-old, who captained Great Britain’s ‘murderball’ team in the summer, has been surprised at the level of interest in his life.
“It took a bit of getting used to, to be honest,” he said. “It’s a funny situation. I used to get friends phoning and saying they’d seen me on telly or read a story or heard me on the radio, but now they don’t even bother.
“To get to that stage where they don’t let you know if they’ve seen you on the telly is quite strange. I don’t know that I will ever get used to that happening.”
On Monday and Tuesday this week a special event, the ParalympicsGB Sports Fest, is being held in Guildford, Surrey, where the public can try out Paralympic sports and get advice about how to access them. Brown had hoped to go but has prior commitments; however, he was full of praise for the way his home county of Kent works in making sports accessible to all.
“There are so many different sports that people can take part in. There’s something for every- one here,” he said. “I see how hard all the schools work to make things inclusive and to improve the inclusion.
“I think having a county that sees making sports inclusive as a priority is good. They are doing everything they can to make the most of what they have got.”
A short holiday aside, the Sittingbourne man has been busy giving talks to schools in the county while continuing his training.
“Things are as busy as ever,” he said. “There’s been a slight change in what I’m busy with, though. Before the game I was very busy doing a lot of training and very little talking about it.
“My focus was completely on training, both mentally and physically for the Games – not just making sure I’m fit and healthy but as captain making sure the team is in a good place. I was thinking inwards – supporting the team.
“It’s been quite humbling to think people are interested in my story. No one ever wanted to know what I had to say before. But people are interested now and are talking about and finding out about my life.
“I now get invited to schools to speak to thousands of pupils. There’s no way that before my accident I could have done those things.
“I was at the dentist, for example, and they asked me to sign a couple of Christmas cards for their kids. There’s no way this would have ever happened to me before my injury.
“You can’t ever say where you would be or what you would be doing if you hadn’t had the injury. There’s no way I could know.”
His training has taken a step back but is now getting more intense as he heads towards the start of the domestic season in January with the Kent Crusaders. He is also still training with his GB team-mates most weeks.
“Once Christmas is out of the way I will be training full-time. I’m not taking my eye off training in any way,” he said. “It’s very normal after a big competition like the Paralympics that you come away from training a bit.
“I want to be better than the summer, so I have to put more into it. If the coach says ‘Jump!’, you say ‘How high?’. And quite rightly so. You can’t possibly expect to be playing for your country without 100 per cent commitment.
“Just because it’s a disabled sport doesn’t mean it’s any less work.”