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KYLIE: I FORGET I'M THE ONLY WOMAN IN TEAM GB'S MURDERBALL SIDE; Multi-talented Grimes is just another squad member in the tough sport of wheelchair rugby and is treated no differently to the men ...and now she wants GOLD.


KYLIE GRIMES is the only woman in Great Britain's wheelchair rugby squad - but for the girl who grew up playing for boys' teams, it is hardly worth mentioning.

"I forget," said the 33-year-old. "I completely forget I'm the only woman.

"I'm so used to just being a team member.

"The boys treat me no differently, which is exactly how it should be."

Grimes, from Surrey, would much rather talk about how she landed that Paralympic spot in the first place - and then a second one, nearly a decade later.

"A medal would literally mean everything," said Grimes. "My whole life, everything I've worked for, everything I've dreamed of.

"Some kids say they're going to be nurses, doctors, fire crew - I said I was going to be in the Olympics, and I'm going to do it, that's all I've ever said."

Grimes played football and rugby, swam with Farnham Swimming Club, won double netball gold at county level, and tried her hand at ballet and gymnastics. But it was show jumping where she found her true calling, first saddling up aged three. Grimes (below) was working fulltime for a stable until a diving accident at the age of 18 left her paralysed from the chest down with limited triceps and hand function.

She spent nearly six months in recovery, landing intensive care for two weeks with pneumonia after surgery. It wasn't long before a new plan crystallised. Lying in her hospital bed, Grimes decided to become a Paralympian. She was still in rehab when she was introduced to wheelchair rugby, and it was love at first fight in the sport nicknamed 'murderball' for its aggressive, full-contact play.

Grimes worked her way through the elite pathway, landing a spot on the PARALYMPICSGB roster for London 2012.

The squad finished fifth, and a shift in personnel pointed to the restless athlete spending more time on the bench than she wanted post-Games.

"I'm not someone who can sit still," explained Grimes, who in 2006 cycled 450km from Vietnam to Cambodia to raise money for disability charity Regain.

"It's not what you do as an athlete. It's not what you train for.

"So I decided to challenge myself and do something different."

Grimes then accepted a talent transfer to athletics and, despite being new to the sport, finished an astonishing fourth in the F51 club throw at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

But when the door to wheelchair rugby reopened in 2018, there was no question where she wanted to be.

A year later, Grimes and her squad were crowned European champions.

"Rugby is in my blood," said Grimes. "It's always been there. I love it.

"It's my favourite Paralympic sport and always will be.

"It's gone from strength to strength, and I've slotted back in. I feel like I'm back at home where I belong."

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ALL-ROUND GOOD SPORT Grimes was a thrower, before showing Boris Johnson wheelchair rugby, and (below) swimming with dolphins

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 21, 2021
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