The dream that created a future Paralympian
In 2003, Bryan Hackworth, who was 15 at the time, fulfilled his dream to see the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team play a home game.
The experience changed his life and Bryan now dreams of representing Great Britain as a Paralympic Sledge Hockey player in South Korea 2018.
“When Dreams Come True organised my dream I didn’t know anything about sledge hockey, but going to Toronto to watch a top level ice-hockey game was really inspiring and from that moment on I knew I wanted to play the sport.”
Bryan, 26, from Sheffield was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. His mobility is restricted and he relies on a wheelchair for long distances.
As a young child, with a disability, Bryan said he never envisaged he would have the opportunity to play: “normal sport like my older brother” and it was beyond his wildest dreams to one day be selected for the GB Sledge Hockey team.
Sledge hockey is the Paralympic version of ice hockey. It was first devised in Sweden in the 1960s and is now one of the most popular Paralympian sports. Following the same rules and rink, players use specially adapted sledges and hockey sticks. It is a fast and physical sport played all over the world by athletes with lower limb disabilities. For those people who have never seen the sport, Bryan’s GB coach, Andy Linton, said the game is incredibly exhilarating: “Sledge hockey is hugely fun to watch, as well as participate in. It’s extremely fast – pucks can travel at speeds of up to 70mph – and is full-contact. Anyone who enjoys ice hockey will equally love sledge hockey.”
Bryan’s Coach Andy, said players like Bryan make a huge difference to the team:
“Bryan is an amazing kid. He puts his heart and soul into sledge hockey in every training session and every game. He is always willing to go above and beyond to help his teammates, whether that’s on the GB team or the Sheffield Steelkings.”
Earlier this year, Bryan was selected by the British Paralympic Association to be an ambassador for Sledge Hockey. He travelled to Sochi as part of a programme, which is designed to give athletes with potential Paralympic experience. “It was an honour to be selected for the Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PIP) by my GB team manager and I was chosen to go to Sochi. The idea is to experience as much of the Games as possible from the athletes’ village to training and competition.” The GB Sledge Hockey team are looking forward to the Winter Paralympics in South Korea in 2018 and recently won a bronze medal at the world championships in Japan.
Author: Sally Ketley
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