Kent-based Steve Brown, the Great Britain wheelchair rugby captain at the London 2012 Olympics, has become a Patron of The Panathlon Challenge, which provides sporting opportunities for over 7,500 disabled young people each year.
The 34-year-old from Sittingbourne joins the Panathlon team this month after being a regular visitor to recent Panathlons or ‘mini Paralympic’ competitions.
Steve, who is currently bidding to represent Team GB again at this year’s Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, is thrilled to be a Patron of the charity and ‘help people do well’.
“I’m proud and delighted to be invited to do what I can to help people and make a difference if I can. Sport has done a lot for me and gave me a career at an international level,” he said.
“I was invited to an event with Panathlon and enjoyed it so much I was pleased to grow the relationship.
“The atmosphere that Panathlon creates is awesome,” he added. “It’s nice to see everyone enjoying a competitive environment. These people play to win and it’s nice to see that attitude amongst them.”
Playing team sports at any level is about aiming to do your personal best and have a responsibility to the other members of the team, he said.
In August Steve was a member of Team Panathlon at the London Triathlon, where he completed a tough 20km hand-cycling section of the event in one hour two minutes. His other Panathlon appearances last year included the South London Finals in March, plus the London Finals and Kent Panathlon Finals in June. He hopes to compete in another triathlon after Rio.
Steve is especially pleased that Panathlon gives some young sportspeople the opportunity to compete in such an iconic venue as the Olympic Park.
“The Olympic Park is a phenomenal place and to be captain of the team at London 2012 is something that you can’t really put into words,” he said.
“It’s lovely to think that people at different levels of ability have the chance to experience something along those lines, of feeling proud, of feeling good about themselves, when Panathlon take their finals to the Copper Box.”
Panathlon CEO Ashley Iceton said Steve has visited Panathlon at least half a dozen times and has always inspired the young competitors with his can do attitude and his own personal sporting success in over-coming hurdles and barriers.
“He has always engaged with the competitors and been amongst their teams encouraging them to get the most out of their performances,” he said.
“He has a fantastic warm and friendly personality that is welcoming and inspiring to our athletes.
“Steve has always thrown his all at helping the Panathlon charity in whatever form that takes and I thank him for his contribution to date and it is an honour that he now joins us formally as a Patron.”
Steve is gaining a reputation off the pitch as an athlete mentor, public speaker and TV presenter. The 2011 European Championship silver medallist and Sky Sports Scholar was also voted part of the ‘2015 Power 100: The most influential people in Britain with disability or impairment’.
He has come out of retirement to compete for a place in the 2016 Paralympic rugby squad.
He admitted this is an intense challenge: “I’m under great stress and pressure at the moment playing and training with the elite GB squad for selection for Rio 2016.
“It’s very tough both physically and mentally. I am just a cog with responsibility to my coach, team mechanic, physio and the other players to do my very best.”