Paralympians visit Medway school

Two of UK’s toughest wheelchair sportsmen have visited Medway to inspire future generations of potential sporting stars.Photo of GB Wheelchair Rugby players Jonny Coggan and Andy Barrow

International wheelchair rugby players Andy Barrow and Jonny Coggan spoke to children at Twydall Junior School ahead of a national event taking place in Medway.

The hard-hitting wheelchair rugby Coloplast Super Series is being staged at Medway Park on Saturday, 19 and Sunday, 20 March.

The event will feature around 80 athletes from the country's leading clubs, including the local Kent Crusaders, doing battle in two days of brutal competition in a bid to be crowned the first Super Series champions.

Andy and Jonny, who both represented Team GB at the Athens and Beijing Paralympic Games, talked about their experiences as elite level wheelchair athletes.

Andy used to be a competitive rugby union player until he suffered a life-changing injury to his spinal chord in 1997 that left him with a permanent disability. Jonny took up the sport after breaking his neck in a car crash 11 years ago.

Both players talked about the commitment and passion needed to reach the top in sport and in life. They also described their experiences travelling the world as professional athletes.

Picture of GB Wheelchair Rugby players Jonny coggan and Andy Barrow at Twydall Junior SchoolThe pair then demonstrated some of their chair skills and talked about their tailor-made wheelchair rugby chairs, which can cost up to £4,500.

Jonny told the children: "It's all down to dedication and you have to work at it day in, day out.

"It's hard work but it's really exciting and I've been able to travel over the world to compete."

Wheelchair rugby is a Paralympic sport nicknamed "murderball" and is played by men and women with upper and lower limb disabilities.

Spectator admission to the Super Series weekend will be free and matches will begin from 9.30am on Saturday and 10am on Sunday. A free taster session will be held from 2pm on Saturday, 19 March for anyone interesting in trying the sport.

The full list of teams participating is: Kent Crusaders, Stoke Mandeville Storm, Cardiff Pirates, North Wales Dragons, North East Bulls, West Coast Crash, East Midland Marauders and the Gaelic Warriors.

For more information visit http://gbwr.org.uk or phone 0208 831 7645.

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