LONDON CALLING

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UDDINGSTON Paralympics star Mike Kerr insists a real family atmosphere can help him and his team-mates strike gold at London 2012.

The 29-year-old wheelchair rugby player will be making his Games debut for ParalympicsGB, who finished fourth at Beijing 2008 and likened taking part to going into battle with his brothers.

Britain begin their campaign against the USA, who have won every World Championships and Paralympic Games since 2006, on September 5, and after a clash with France will play Japan to, hopefully, seal a semi-final berth.

Wheelchair rugby is the only full-contact sport outside judo in the Paralympics and Kerr cannot wait to do battle in front of his loved ones with a potential gold medal in their sights.

Kerr, a member of the Bank of Scotland Local Heroes programme, said: “I’ve been in and around the squad since 2006 and this is the best bond between us all. It’s like going into battle with brothers.

“Being at home makes it such an honour to be selected because it’s such a unique opportunity.

“I’ve had family and friends come to a few events, but this will be really amazing.

“We came second in the Europeans last year, so we’ve got a good platform. If we can perform well on the day we should be able to bring a medal home.

“The Paralympics show people what is possible. Life doesn’t need to stop because you’re disabled. The opportunities are there for everyone to go and achieve what they want.

GIVING

“Sport is all about giving it your all, whether you’re able-bodied or disabled.”

Kerr is keen for wheelchair rugby to show itself as a fast and exciting sport in front of thousands of new supporters, and hopes it will soar in popularity long after London 2012.

He added: “Wheelchair rugby is growing in popularity. It was the first to sell-out and it shows you how important the awareness will be.

“We do lots of school visits where we talk to kids about our sport, and just about what the Paralympics are all about. I really hope we can inspire the next generation to go and achieve great things.

“I got involved in wheelchair rugby after an accident on holiday in 2000. I dived into the shallow end of a swimming pool and broke my neck.

“After rehab I got into wheelchair rugby and haven’t really looked back.

“I doubt I would have been doing anything had I not had my accident. I played sport occasionally but nothing on this level, nothing close.

“For me it was massively important and made me the person I am today. It gave me that confidence I needed after my accident. It made me fit and strong so it’s been incredible.”

lBank of Scotland Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, provides support and funding to 82 of Scotland’s most talented developing athletes on their journey to London 2012 and beyond. Since 2008, the programme has supported 170 athletes.

Follow future stars at www.facebook.com/bankofscotlandlocalheroes.