Steve Brown (wheelchair rugby)
|Full name||Stephen Brown|
|Born||2 June 1981|
Chatham, Kent, England
|Residence||Sittingbourne, Kent, England|
|Achievements and titles|
|Paralympic finals||Captain 2012|
|Updated on 2 October 2012.|
Sport was integral to Steve Brown's life from an early age. Raised in a family that supported Crystal Palace Football Club, he remembers being taken to watch the team play. "At the time, Iain Dowie was playing for Crystal Palace and was a real role model, but as a small boy I found it amazing that there were thousands of people cheering for a player and chanting his name. It certainly made me feel that I wanted that, too." Brown attended Borden Grammar School in Sittingbourne, Kent. Sport was the focus of his enthusiasm and he demonstrated a broad sporting ability, representing the school in football, cricket and cross-country.
Alongside his sport, Brown's greatest pleasure was in exploring the countryside around his home. His interest was so great that he wanted to be a wildlife presenter. "If I wasn’t playing football with my mates I was catching tadpoles and slowworms, and I loved programmes like The Really Wild Show and everything with David Attenborough. So that’s what I wanted to be. But the careers master just told me I wouldn’t be able to do that and to forget it."
Injury & Recovery
Brown was 23 years old when he experienced the accident that changed, completely and irrevocably, the course of his life. It was 2005 and he was working in Europe as an area manager for a holiday company. He recounts: "I tripped and fell from a first-floor balcony. I was looking up when I landed, so when my body stopped my head went back over my shoulders, like a severe whiplash. It snapped my neck, dislocating the C7 [one of the cervical vertebra, below the skull] and trapping my spinal cord."
Brown was taken to hospital for emergency surgery to stabilise his neck. "The only parts of my body that I could move were my shoulders, my neck and my elbows." Three weeks later Brown was flown to England in order to begin his rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
Very soon after arriving at Stoke Mandeville, Steve was taken to watch wheelchair rugby. That moment was one that he would come to think of as transitional. “There were people trying to knock each other out of their wheelchairs, shouting, swearing and arguing. There was a canyon between where I was mentally and physically and where they were. A lot of them had similar injuries to me, some had worse, and I thought: 'If they can be that confident, why can’t I?’ It was a turning point.”
Steve Brown left hospital in October 2005. In the same month he took part in his first wheelchair rugby training session, at the Aspire National Training Centre with London Wheelchair Rugby Club.
Brown's potential in the sport was quickly noted by the head coach of the Great Britain squad. In 2006 he was awarded a place in that squad and in 2007 he was part of the team that won gold in the IWRF European Championships. Despite such precocious progress, Brown narrowly missed selection for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games - but was honoured to lead the Olympic and Paralympic Parade of the Heroes through London on the team’s return.
Omission from the squad for Beijing only maximised Brown's determination to play at Great Britain's home Paralympics in 2012. He regained his place and, despite breaking his sternum while playing in Germany in 2010, was awarded the captaincy in 2011. At the London 2012 Paralympics Brown led his team to a 5th-place finish. He has since commented that “Being captain at your home Games is the biggest thing that you could do. I was incredibly proud.”
Although Brown retired from international sport after the London 2012 games, he remains heavily involved in wheelchair rugby as a player and the head coach for Canterbury Hellfire Wheelchair Rugby Club. He is one of the most recognised faces in the sport, having featured in multiple national newspapers and television broadcasts including Channel 4’s Inside Incredible Athletes.
Since 2012, Steve Brown has become increasingly present on television for a variety of channels and in a variety of roles. He has presented for the BBC's Truth or Scare, The One Show and Springwatch. He has also been a roving reporter for Game Changers on Sky Sports.
From 12–16 October 2015 he joined the ITV team for the live broadcast of the BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge at the Copper Box Arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. He co-presented from the courtside studio as a pundit alongside Martin Bayfield, the former England and British & Irish Lions rugby union player.
Brown worked as a reporter and commentator for the BBC's coverage of the Invictus Games in 2014, 2016 and 2017. He has described this work as "the privilege of watching people bond and go from being individuals with things in common to being part of a team." In September 2016 he was a member of the Channel 4 team that brought coverage of the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
In April 2017 Steve became the latest member of the BBC's Countryfile team. For him this was the realisation of a long held ambition and a refutation of the careers advisor at school who told him that he would never be a wildlife presenter. He remarked that “it is worth every flat tyre, every muddy set of hands, every wet lap… I want to be judged on my performance. I’m hoping people will see it’s about ability, not disability.”
Steve Brown is a Sky Sports Scholar and a Sky Sports 'Living for Sport' mentor, as well as a public speaker who has spoken for organisations including Allianz and Sky. His charitable work includes being an ambassador for Wooden Spoon, a patron of Panathlon and a trustee for the Swale Youth Development Fund.
- "Player Profile - Steve Brown". GB Wheelchair Rugby. Archived from the original on 2012-08-30.
- "Athlete Profile - Steve Brown". ParalympicsGB. Archived from the original on 2012-09-16. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- Davies, Gareth A. (2014-02-11). "Wheelchair rugby captain Steve Brown: My school sport". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- "Who is new Countryfile presenter Steve Brown? Meet the former Paralympian who is proving the doubters wrong again". Radio Times. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- Rushby-Smith, Tim (16 July 2012). "London 2012 Paralympics: How wheelchair rugby saved my life". The Telegraph.
- "Being told I was paralysed was devastating. But I'm a fighter: Steve Brown reveals how he overcame a broken back, and his anger, to become GB wheelchair rugby captain". Mail Online. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- "London 2012 Paralympics: Steve Brown". Time Out. Retrieved 2 October 2012.[permanent dead link]
- "Inside Incredible Athletes". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 2010-08-21. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- "Television | Steve Brown". www.stevebrowngb.com. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- "Game Changers Reporter - Steve Brown". Sky Sports.[permanent dead link]
- "Junior Gunners- Steve Brown". Sky Sports.
- "ITV to broadcast BT WWRC". ITV.
- "BBC - Steve Brown Q&A - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- "Channel 4 unveils Rio Paralympics team". Channel 4.
- "Sky Sports Scholarships". Sky Sports.
- "Living for Sport Mentors - Steve Brown". Sky Sports. Archived from the original on 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- "Community Support | Steve Brown". www.stevebrowngb.com. Retrieved 2017-10-26.