A WREXHAM Paralympic athlete is one among 100 Welsh star sportsmen and women who have had their efforts chronicled for a national archive.
Wheelchair rugby player Jason Roberts, of St Martin’s, near Chirk, is just one of the many Welsh athletes who will have their stories preserved in People’s Collection Wales - an online archive of stories and interviews.
His story has been recorded as part of Following the Flame – a digital exhibition of any Welsh people who have had the chance to take part in the Olympics, the Paralympics or the Commonwealth Games.
Jason, who was born in Wrexham, broke his neck in a car accident at the age of just 18, and spent five-and-a-half months in the orthopaedic spinal unit at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
He took up the high-energy contact sport the very day after leaving hospital.
Jason, now 41, said: “I left hospital on the Monday and I started playing wheelchair rugby on the Tuesday.
“By the time I was late 19 I’d already been selected for the Great Britain squad. To be the rookie and the only Welsh player – and going off to the European games and the World games – it was fantastic.
“I stayed in the squad until 1995, so that was three years going places and improving and doing really well.”
A hip infection saw Jason undergo a further hospital stay, this time for three-and-a-half years, which meant he missed the first ever Paralympic wheelchair rugby event in Atlanta in 1996.
After that hge disappointment he competed in the Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 and also competed at the World Games in 2006.
He added: “The game is called wheelchair rugby but there’s not really any comparison to able-bodied rugby. I think it’s just called that because it is an aggressive, rough game.
“At first, it was called ‘murder ball’, but we couldn’t really keep it called that. Promoting it was a nightmare.”
Phil Cope, who put together the Following the Flame project over several years, said: “With Following the Flame we aim to preserve the enthralling history of our sports stars and inspire a new generation of competitors and coaches, whatever their discipline or disability.
“People’s Collection Wales is a wonderful thing because it is very much a living archive. We need to keep recording the stories of our sporting heroes because Wales keeps creating champions.”
Following the Flame will launch online at the People’s Collection Wales website tomorrow.
For more information visit www.peoplescollectionwales.co.uk.