Team GB made history this year as the first ever European team to take home a medal for Wheelchair Rugby – or ‘murderball’ as it’s also called – but that’s not all. Kylie Grimes, an ambassador for The Harlequins Foundation, made her own history as the first ever woman to win the Paralympic gold medal for the sport.
It’s a huge win for GB, but a monumental win for women everywhere. Young girls who are too often told that they’re not ‘allowed’ to play rugby can look up to Grimes and see themselves, for the first time, as a Paralympic gold medalist just like her. And it’s not just that women can match men – they can do it in an aggressive, full-contact sport like Wheelchair Rugby.
With more women playing the sport than ever before, there’s nothing stopping you from playing too. If you’re a disabled person looking to try the sport out for yourself, consider joining the Jesters! They’re The Harlequins Foundation very own wheelchair rugby team, and they’re open to any player over 15, whether you’re a beginner or a veteran. As Grimes herself says, “come and play the sport and you’ll fall in love with it, just like I have.”
After all, what’s not to love about it? Wheelchair Rugby has everything – fast-paced tactics, point gaps that can be lost in a matter of seconds and brutal, adrenaline-pumping collisions between chairs.
It also allows for an incredibly diverse range of disabilities to play, as well as giving those with less mobility the chance to shine just as much as those with more. Grimes herself is a 0.5 classification player – the lowest range of mobility possible – and she is making history, showing without a doubt that anyone with a disability can get involved in sport if they want to.
As a mixed sport invented for quadriplegics wheelchair rugby is the perfect sport to champion inclusivity, and it starts with women like Grimes. She hopes to serve as an inspiration to girls everywhere and see as many women as possible playing wheelchair rugby: “The more women we can get involved, the better for the sport, and for all of us.”
And she’s right – she’s said before that sport has saved her life. Through wins like this, even through taking part – the power of Wheelchair Rugby is changing lives everywhere for the better.