FARNHAM has a new Paralympic hero after Kylie Grimes made history as the first ever woman to win wheelchair rugby gold in the early hours of Sunday morning.
And GB’s win over Rio 2016 silver-medallists the USA made history for more reasons than one, as previously no European team had ever won a medal in the sport.
It was Kylie’s fourth Games, having made her debut at London 2012 – and her first ever medal.
And there was quite a party as Kylie Grimes’ family and friends gathered at her mum’s house in Stephendale Road, near Farnham Centre for Health, on Sunday morning.
Denied a trip to Tokyo by the tightened Covid-19 restrictions in Japan, around 30 of Kylie’s biggest fans instead gathered around the TV to watch GB’s wheelchair rugby gold medal match against the USA.
And their cheers could be heard across much of Farnham as Kylie, 34, and her teammates won 54-49.
A bigger party is planned this week when Kylie - who is the first woman to win a Paralympic gold medal in the sport - is due to return home to a hero’s welcome.
"It was just incredible," said Rosie Bunnage, Kylie’s eldest sister.
"After the build-up of the past year, the heartbreak we’ve all been through, to have all this at the end of it has been just amazing.
"We were all absolutely gutted not to be allowed to travel to Tokyo because we’ve followed her around the world.
"But they’ve made up for it and we’ve had just the best week ever - just incredible."
Prior to Tokyo 2020, Great Britain had never won a Paralympic medal in the wheelchair rugby event, but despite the weight of history, Kylie and her team only had one mission.
"When Kylie left two and a half weeks ago and she said to my children, ’auntie’s going to bring back the gold’ and we went absolutely mad," added Rosie, 34.
"They were so focused, and after GB’s group stage loss to the USA on the third day of the tournament, Kylie told us on Facetime they just needed to believe they could do it.
"It was the wake-up call they needed - because in the next game they beat Japan, the gold medallists from Rio, and then went on to beat the USA in the final. We were all screaming at the TV, it was amazing."
Rosie added just 15 years ago, after a swimming pool accident left her sister paralysed, Kylie couldn’t dress herself or even lift her arms.
But after discovering the sport of wheelchair rugby, nicknamed ’Murderball’ because of its combative nature, years of dedication and training six days a week have paid off.
"To see the things she’s achieving now is just amazing - we’re so proud," continued Rosie.
"But that’s just Kylie all over. If you tell her she can’t do something, she’s going to find a way to make it happen."
For anyone wishing to celebrate and congratulate Kylie on her success, she will be at the Hale Recreation Ground tomorrow (Saturday, September 4) alongside town mayor Alan Earwaker from 10am to 11am.