MANY mothers may harbour reservations about their son taking up a sport commonly known as ‘murderball’ – but Myles Pearson and his mum Jo are delighted she had no such qualms.
St Annes-based Jo’s wholehearted encouragement of Myles in his chosen sport of wheelchair rugby, as it is officially known, means the 19-year-old is looking forward to the biggest day of his sporting life tomorrow.
The former St Bede’s Catholic School pupil from Lightburne Avenue makes his debut for Paralympics GB in their opening group match against the USA at 2pm tomorrow.
Not only is Jo a proud mum and supporter – she will be attending all the group games – she has also taken the role of Myles’ press officer.
Jo told The Gazette: “The idea is to leave the players free to concentrate as much as possible on their preparation, so I’ve been happy to deal with any press enquiries about Myles.
“As a mum, there’s always a concern when your child takes up any contact sport, wheelchair or not. Yes, it’s dangerous but so is life – you can walk in front of a bus any day. To be honest, I was delighted when he first got involved.
“When disabled children live in a mainstream environment, like Myles, they can be sheltered from the rough and tumble of life and miss the enjoyment of a sport like rugby. Myles certainly hasn’t missed out.”
He was born with a condition known as arthrogryposis, which affects the joints. The youngest member of the GB team, Myles had never played the game when the last Paralympics were staged in Beijing. He tried it out for the first time as a 15-year-old, joined a club (Southport Crash) and his dedication has taken him to the very top.
After two months of intense training in Norfolk, Myles moved into the Paralympic Village a week ago to fine-tune his preparations for the gruelling schedule.
The group games are played on three successive days, with France and Japan to follow the Americans, and Myles could be required to play five days in a row if GB qualify for the semi-finals and finals.
Jo continued: “There isn’t much recovery time but they are playing well. They are currently ranked fifth in the world and I think they stand a great chance.
“Myles was first invited to train with Team GB two years ago and he has been concentrating on rugby full-time.
“We knew that he would have to put everything else on hold to compete at the Paralympics, but we agreed it was too good an opportunity to miss.”
But like any caring mum, Jo’s main concern is that Myles returns home safely next Tuesday,
BLACKPOOL fencer Justine Moore competes in the individual foil today, the first of her three Paralympic events, while Shelly Woods returns to the track this morning for the 800m heats.