A PARALYPIC athlete from Farnham who has competed all over the world is the first female player to be selected on to this year’s GB Quad Nations team for the wheelchair rugby tournament.
Persuaded to consider playing wheelchair rugby while still in hospital recovering after a diving accident, Kylie Grimes will be the first female to be on the squad which will play against Japan, Canada and France at the beginning of March.
The 31-year-old, who made her GB debut during a friendly match with Canada in Leeds, West Yorkshire, said she was “thrilled” to be selected for the team, which is a first for the Quad Nations tournament.
Kylie competed in wheelchair rugby at the London 2012 Paralympics and developed a love for the sport after seeing how the competition could be great for people who were born disabled or have disabilities through accidents, and could compete together.
She said: “It is such a team sport. I have always been sporty and so wheelchair rugby, which is a very male-dominated sport, tends to be fast, strong and very competitive, which I love.
“One of my best moments so far playing is when I shot the ball past Australian legend Riley Batt during a game. He is one of the best players in the world and that was an amazing feeling.
“So I am hoping to this year help our team defeat the current champions Japan. We are very strong players so I am very hopeful.”
Fast paced and violent, players compete in specially-designed, manual wheelchairs and must meet minimum disability criteria, under the sport classification rules.
All competing athletes were either born with physical disabilities, or have suffered illness which has affected their mobility, or else experienced life-changing injuries through accidents, including those serving in the armed forces.
Described by spectators and sports commentators as brutal, the supercharged tournament will be held at Leicester’s Morningside Arena from March 1-3, bringing together three incredible days of the world’s best ‘Murderball’ teams for this intense, elite-standard competition.
Great Britain will be up against Japan, who won the gold medal at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships in Sydney last summer, Canada – who are currently ranked fourth in the world – and France, who are ranked seventh.
The tournament marks an important performance opportunity for Great Britain ahead of the 2019 European Championships in Denmark where Team GB will defend their title, and ahead of the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge which will be played alongside the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo in October and involve the top eight teams in the world.
David Pond, chief executive of Great Britain wheelchair rugby, added: “It has been great to see a female athlete earn a place in the squad. Kylie is proof that if you are good enough then being female is no barrier to making it.
“We are looking forward to playing some of the best teams in the world in Leicester and the tournament is an important step on our way to Tokyo.”
* Visit wrquadnations.com