KATE MURRAY lives in Bonchester Bridge, in the Borders. She took up archery ten years ago, after an accident left her with limited mobility. Having been born in London the year the Olympic Games were last held there, she feels it is appropriate that she will be competing there this summer.
“I had a nerve condition that eventually led to an operation to remove some bone nerves from my lower back, which had been left damaged by an accident on holiday that left me paralysed down my right side. I can get around the house on my feet all right, but I sit on a stool when I’m competing – it gives me a lot more stability.
“Archery is an absolutely brilliant sport for disabled people. It’s incredibly adaptive and inclusive.
“I’d always fancied having a go at archery, but I never got round to it when I was working. There always seemed to be something else that needed done.
“Then a friend of mine bought me a have-a-go session, and I loved it. I was already used to taking part in driving trials with horses, so there has always been a competitiveness in me.
“After a while I started shooting in competitions, and somebody submitted my scores for me. Then I was invited on to a talent identification programme, and the next thing I knew I was asked did I have a passport and could I go to the world championships in Korea. I won an individual bronze and a team silver medal. That was in 2007.
“The British team is very strong in both archery disciplines. In compound we’re the best in the world, and in recurve we’re in the top ten.
“We start competing on 30 August, which will be my 64th birthday. I was born in Woolwich, because my father had been posted down there at the time, in 1948, when the Olympics were taking place. And some shooting events are taking place there this year. I’m looking forward to going back.”
• SEAN FRASER won a bronze medal in the 100 metres backstroke at the last Paralympics and silver in the 100 metres freestyle at the last Commonwealth Games. A gold in London would complete the set. He is from Edinburgh, and lives and trains in Manchester.
“I have cerebral palsy, but it’s quite mild – in fact, when I was born they were unsure for a while if I had it or not. I can walk around no bother – if you saw me you might think I had a slight limp.
“I can drive a manual car, climb trees, play football with my friends. I’ve never seen myself as disabled.
“When I was young they said swimming or cycling would be the best sports for me. I never fancied climbing up a hill on a bike, so I took up swimming.
“I’m still a member at Warrender, in Edinburgh, where I trained before moving to Manchester. I do around 18 hours a week of training in the water plus gym sessions too, so it’s pretty hectic at the moment.
“Everybody has good days and bad days. The bad days are where you really need to work. Some days it’s just a job, but when you get the reward there’s nothing like it.
“Competing at a home Olympics is a childhood dream. It’s unbelieveable that I could get a chance to fulfill it.”
• MIKE KERR discovered wheelchair rugby a year after being paralysed in a diving accident on holiday. He took part in the Olympic torch relay in Rutherglen in June.
“I’ve been in a wheelchair since August 2000. I had a diving accident on holiday – I say a diving accident, but I dived into a swimming pool at the shallow end and knew from the moment I hit the bottom of the pool that I was paralysed. I just knew. I’m paralysed from the nipples down.
“When I first had my accident I was really weak and it took me a long time to build up my strength, but wheelchair rugby gave me a real focus. I played football, a little rugby and some other sports before the accident. Sport was all I was ever good at.
“A year after my accident, I tried wheelchair rugby and fell in love with it. It’s the only wheelchair sport that’s full-contact.
“I’m a full-time athlete. I live in Glasgow, train in London and play for the Bulls in Middlesbrough. It’s a hectic lifestyle I’ve had to adapt to because there’s no competitive wheelchair rugby team in Scotland at the moment.
“I was in the initial squad for the Beijing Paralympics, four years ago, but I didn’t make it into the final squad. This time around, I’m obviously a lot more experienced and have had a lot more game time.
“Competing at the Paralympics would mean everything to me. It’s the pinnacle. It’s what I’ve worked for over the last ten years.
“A medal is very realistic. The best teams in the world at the moment are the United States and Australia, so we would have to beat one of them to win the competition.”
• PETER and STEPHEN McGUIRE play boccia, a bowls-like sport specifically designed for wheelchair athletes. Stephen, at 27 the younger by two years, got involved first and recruited his brother when he needed a partner for a pairs competition. From Hamilton, they have won titles at British, European and world level.
“I first heard of boccia when I left school,” says Peter, “and I’ve been playing it for about seven years now. It’s specifically designed for people with disabilities like ours.
“I’ve got muscular dystrophy. My father was told I’d be dead when I was nine, but I haven’t deteriorated since I was 12.
“I love the challenge of taking on opponents. Stephen is technically better and I’ve got a tactical mind, so I think it’s a good combination.”
Stephen says, “I’ve always loved to play sport – hockey, pool, darts, bowls. To be honest, it has just been my life.
“I’ve been British champion six times, a European champion and a double world silver medallist. A Paralympic medal would fill my collection, and there would be no better place to do it than at a home Olympics, but I’m not counting my chickens.
“In Scotland we don’t have half as many boccia players as England, but what we’ve got is quality. And the enthusiasm of some of the young players is incredible.”
• NEIL FACHIE was originally a track athlete, then took up cycling when his sight began to deteriorate due to a degenerative eye disorder. He competes in a pairs event, and at the Olympics could be piloted by former world champion Craig MacLean.
“I ran for Aberdeen Athletics Club and I was in the Scotland squad, but even back then I was always a big fan of cycling.
“I remember when Craig carried the Scotland flag at the Commonwealth Games, for example – that was a big moment that has stayed with me.
“There are two pilots and two stokers in the squad, and we keep switching between combinations to try to find out what the best one is.
“It’s nice to have a former world champion as a pilot in front of you when you’re competing as a stoker, but it’s not as if you can afford to sit back and let him do all the work. To get the best results, you both have to be at the top of your game.
“I moved to Manchester a couple of years ago. We train alongside the Olympic squad every day. On the track we’re the best team in the world.”
• The Paralympic Games take place from 26 August until 2 September (www.london2012.com/paralympics/sports)
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
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Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West