Mike Kerr – murderball star

This year’s wheelchair rugby squad is the strongest it’s ever been, with the men and women of the court among the favourites to make it to the podium for Britain. We caught up with the team’s only Scot, Mike Kerr.

How are you feeling about London 2012?

Excited! I think we’re in with a good chance of getting a medal, if we keep playing the way we have been.

What made you start playing wheelchair rugby?

I was always into sport. I was at college studying health and fitness, I played football, so I think after I had my accident I just wanted to keep going.

How did your accident happen?

I jumped into the shallow end of the pool on holiday – thirty seconds of complete madness.

How did you feel when you were told you were paralysed?

I wasn’t surprised. As soon as I hit the bottom of the pool, I knew. When they pulled me out, I knew right away that I’d done myself some serious damage. I just thought – yeah, I’ve done it this time. I thought my sporting days were over to be honest.

And then wheelchair rugby came into your life! What do you enjoy about the sport?

The fact that it’s a team sport and it’s full contact. People say, you’ve already injured yourself, why risk injuring yourself more? But it’s a relatively safe sport, even though it’s full contact!

It’s sometimes known as murderball too…

Yes! But when the sport started getting more professional and teams were looking for sponsors, trying to market murderball isn’t a good idea!

What makes wheelchair rugby different to able-bodied rugby?

To be perfectly honest with you, they have nothing in common apart from the full contact part of it. It’s actually a bit more like American football and ice hockey. It’s played with a round ball, similar to a volleyball. That’s because you have to bounce the ball in the game – if you imagine bouncing a rugby ball, it’d be all over the place!

What would you like to do after wheelchair rugby?

I’d like to get into coaching. I’d also like to do psychology, working with newly-injured people. When I was in the spinal unit, it was all able-bodied psychologists. How can an able-bodied person relate to someone who’s just had a spinal cord injury? To me, it doesn’t make sense. I’ve done a bit of peer support but I’d like to take that to a different level.

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