“It means the world to me” - Halifax’s Harry Brown selected for second Paralympics
Halifax athlete Harry Brown says he is delighted to be a Paralympian once again after being named by ParalympicsGB as part of the squad who will represent Great Britain in Wheelchair Basketball at Tokyo 2020.
The Games are to be held from 24th August to 5th September, a year delayed due to the pandemic, with the GB Wheelchair Basketball Teams currently ranked number 1 and 2 in the world for the men and women’s teams respectively.
The 27-year-old has been a longstanding part of the British Wheelchair Basketball set up and is no stranger to international success.
At 16-years-old, Brown became the youngest player to represent the GB Men’s Senior Team when he made his debut at the 2011 BT Paralympic Cup.
A player recognised for his agility and speed on court, Brown – who lost both legs to meningitis as a baby – has also represented England in Wheelchair Rugby League. At 11-years-old, the Halifax native first played wheelchair basketball and since that day has continued to go from strength to strength in the sport.
2011 saw Harry make his senior major championships debut as the GB Men’s team made history at the European Championships, winning the European title for the first time since 1995.
Since then, three more European gold medals have followed for Harry, his latest coming in 2019. In 2014, the Halifax native made his World Championship debut for Great Britain in South Korea; going on to make his Paralympic Games debut in 2016 in Rio, where the team brought home the bronze medal.
After claiming European silver in 2017, Harry was a vital team member of the squad which secured Great Britain its first World Championships title, with Harry one of the starting five players in every game in Hamburg.
Joining Brown in the GB Men’s Squad will be 2018 World Championship MVP Gregg Warburton (24), two-time Paralympian and captain Ian Sagar (39) and six-time Paralympian Terry Bywater (38). Also featuring are 2017 Junior World Championship Gold Medallists James MacSorely (26), Billy Bridge (25), Jim Palmer (24), Lewis Edwards (22) and Ben Fox (25) who will each be making their Paralympic Games debut.
Abdi Jama (38) will make his fourth Paralympic appearance, with Copa del Rey 2021 Champions and 2018 World Champions Lee Manning (31) and Gaz Choudhry (36) completing the men’s team line up for Tokyo.
Ecstatic at having been selected for a second time to compete at the pinnacle of international sport, Brown reflected on what will surely be his most unusual Paralympics to date, saying: “To be selected for my second Paralympics means the world to me - having my kids back home being able to watch, that’s going to be the biggest motivation. When it got postponed, it was a bit of a downer, but that extra bit of prep has been a massive help to the team.
“The main thing that everyone’s missed is that togetherness - this team is more than a wheelchair basketball team, we are a full-on family so having everyone back together is huge.
“I was a little kid from Halifax and wheelchair basketball has taken me all over the world, so my message to anyone thinking about trying the sport is to get involved!”
ParalympicGB’s Wheelchair Basketball Team Leader, and British Wheelchair Basketball Performance Director, Jayne Ellis praised athletes’ commitment and resilience through all the uncertainty around international competitions.
She said: “Throughout the last 18 months I have watched in awe as time and time again these dedicated athletes have gone above and beyond, giving their all to this sport, completely focused on their ambition to represent their nation in Tokyo. For some this has been through converting garages into home gyms, and for others this has been sacrificing weeks away from their loved ones and family so that they can attend GB training camps.
“This selection news should also be credited to the selfless loved ones and families of our GB teams, this incredible support network is truly the team behind the team and their unwavering encouragement and support of our athletes should not go unrecognised.”
Athletes like Brown will be hoping that his Paralympic exploits will inspire the young people of Halifax to begin a wheelchair basketball journey - the squad announcement also marking the launch of British Wheelchair Basketball’s Paralympic Legacy Open Events, designed to provide an opportunity for those to get involved with the sport for the first time.
The events will take place across three weekends - 28th and 29th August, 4th and 5th September, and 11th and 12th September.
British Wheelchair Basketball have also recently launched their new Inspire a Generation programme which offers a fun six-week introduction to the sport. To find your local course, visit www.inspireageneration.com.