Last week we welcomed inspirational Paralympic 'Murderball' (Wheelchair Rugby) athlete Andy Barrow in to school to speak with our Year 8 students.
In 1997, Andy Barrow was playing rugby for his local club when he suffered a spinal-cord injury that left him paralysed from the chest down, with limited use of his hands. He was aged just 17.
The following year, his life was transformed again when he discovered wheelchair rugby – also known as murderball – and joined the London Wheelchair Rugby club.
Andy was selected to train with the Great Britain squad in 1999 and narrowly missed out on a place at the Sydney Paralympics. Vowing never to miss a major tournament again, he dedicated himself to the life of a full-time athlete and made his international début at the World Championships in Gothenburg in 2002.
Andy’s wheelchair rugby career encompassed three Paralympic Games, three World Championships, and five European Championships, where he was part of the record-breaking team that won three gold medals in a row. He captained Great Britain from 2005 to 2010 and led the team out at the Beijing Paralympics – one of his proudest moments. Andy has also spent time in America, representing San Diego in the US league.
The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was the greatest sporting event in Great Britain’s history, and the perfect opportunity for Andy to end his career on a high. He took the decision to make this his final tournament before retiring as an athlete to pursue a career as an inspirational speaker and mentor.
Since then, Andy has worked as an athlete mentor for the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and Sporting Champions as well as creating or collaborating on several mentoring projects including his hugely successful 3 Cs Challenge. Andy now regularly speaks to corporate audiences about performance and has recently taken his projects international, where he specialises in creating bespoke itineraries for schools and organisations.
Andy spoke to the Year 8s about the importance of seizing every opportunity and answered questions about his life and experiences. He explained that the term 'para' in Paralympics refers not to 'paralysed' or 'paraplegic' as many people think, but actually refers to the term 'parallel', therefore athletes such as himself compete in 'Parallel-Olympics' or 'Paralympics' for short.
It was great to have such a dedicated and talented athlete her to speak with us and we look forward to welcoming Andy back to speak with us again next time he visits Singapore.
Department of Supportive Education Leader