In 1997, Andy Barrow was playing rugby for his local club when he suffered a spinal-cord injury that left him paralysed from the chest down, with limited use of his hands. He was just 17 years old.
Following this catastrophic, life-changing injury and many hard months of rehabilitation, his life was transformed again when he discovered wheelchair rugby – also known as “Murderball” – and joined the London Wheelchair Rugby club.
Andy was selected to train with the Great Britain squad in 1999, and narrowly missed out on a place at the Sydney Paralympics. Vowing never to miss a major tournament again, he dedicated himself to the life of a full-time athlete, and made his international début at the Wheelchair Rugby World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2002.
His wheelchair rugby career encompassed three Paralympic Games, three World Championships, and five European Championships, where he was part of the record-breaking team that won three gold medals in a row. He captained Great Britain from 2005 to 2010, and led the team out at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics – one of his proudest moments.
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was the greatest sporting event in Great Britain’s history, and the perfect opportunity for Andy to end his career on a high. He took the decision to make this his final tournament, following well over 100 appearances for GB.
Since retiring, Andy has worked as an athlete mentor for the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, created his own successful mentoring projects and now coaches current Great Britain athletes through their public appearances.
Andy regularly speaks to corporate audiences about performance and has also taken his presentations international, where he specializes in creating bespoke itineraries for organisations. Andy is an experienced ambassador who has represented charities including Team London, Right To Play and most recently, Laureus.
Andy believes that:
- Success is achieved through hard work and perseverance
- It is possible to triumph over adversity, and take positives from everything in life
- Everyone has the qualities they need to be the best they can be, but nothing will change unless you change it
- You should only do the things that make you happy, give 100% to whatever you do, and take opportunities as they arise