James Brown (cyclist)

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James Brown
Personal information
NationalityNorthern Irish
Born1964/1965 (age 54–55)
Portaferry, Northern Ireland
Country Ireland (since 2009)

James Brown is a former Northern Irish paralympic-cyclist, who competed for Great Britain, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. He is visually impaired and participated in five Paralympic Games in various sports. Brown earned two gold medals at the 1984 Summer Paralympics in athletics and a bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in the men's road time trial with sighted pilot Damien Shaw.

Paralympic career[edit]

Brown is visually impaired from birth and began cycling at the age of five and running at the age of 13 while attending the Royal National College for the Blind.[1] Following instruction in skiing, he joined the British Paralympic Team for the 1982 Disabled Alpine World Championships. He later worked at the Royal National College for the Blind as a volunteer guide runner, including at the World Youth Games for the Disabled.[1]

At the 1984 Summer Paralympics in New York City, Brown won two gold medals in athletics for Great Britain in the 800-metre and 1500-metre.[2] He later participated in several other editions of the Summer and Winter Paralympics in other events, including cross-country skiing and the biathlon.[3]

Brown planned to enter the 2008 Paralympic Games as a cyclist, but missed the games because of an injury.[4] The following year, he joined the Irish team and began his partnership with sighted pilot Damien Shaw in 2011.[5] At the 2012 Paralympic Games, Brown and Shaw won a bronze medal in the men's road time trial B. The pair had also finished fourth in the men's individual pursuit B and ninth in the men's 1 km time trial B.[2]

He later represented Northern Ireland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, partnering with Dave Readle in the men's tandem sprint B and men's tandem time trial B, finishing fifth in both events.[6] Brown was banned from competition from 2016 to 2018 by Sport Ireland and Cycling Ireland for violating anti-doping rules, to which he admitted .[7]

Personal life[edit]

Brown retired from sport in 2015 and joined Mobiloo, a social enterprise that aims to provide portable toilets that are accessible for the disabled.[8] He has since participated in several Extinction Rebellion protests and has been arrested several times for non-violent civil disobedience; he has cited his daughter for inspiring his climate change activism.[8] On 10 October 2019, he climbed on the fuselage of a British Airways plane at London City Airport as part of Extinction Rebellion's takeover of the airport.[9][10] At a subsequent court hearing, he denied the charge of causing a public nuisance and was granted conditional bail by a district judge that barred him from being within one mile (1.6 km) of an airport.[11]


  1. ^ a b Janicki, Klara (November 2012). "An interview with James Brown". National Paralympic Heritage Trust. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Paralympics 2012: NI cyclist James Brown takes bronze medal". BBC Sport. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  3. ^ Ringland, Nigel (1 September 2012). "Brown suffers medal agony". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  4. ^ "James Brown: track - 1km time trial, 4km individual pursuit. Road - time trial, road race". RTÉ. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Portaferry's James claims bronze at Paralympics". Down Recorder. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Readle continues remarkable journey". Belfast Telegraph. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Paralympian James Brown found guilty of doping violation". RTÉ. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  8. ^ a b Shearman, Sarah (12 September 2019). "Paralympian turned climate activist readies for arrest at UK airport". Reuters. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Extinction Rebellion: Man climbs on top of plane in climate protest". BBC News. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  10. ^ Davies, Gareth (10 October 2019). "Blind Paralympian climbs onto roof of British Airways plane in Extinction Rebellion protests at London City Airport". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Extinction Rebellion: James Brown denies plane nuisance charge". BBC News. 12 October 2019. Retrieved 12 October 2019.