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Thursday 1 May 2014

Wheelchair Rugby Athletes

Myles Pearson, a Business student here at Southampton Solent University, is one of our Wheelchair Rugby’s heroes. Myles plays defence (classification 1.5) – we asked him how he got into the sport and what he thought about life on campus.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into sport:

I am originally from near Blackpool, Lytham St.Annes. I used to play wheelchair tennis at quite a high level (21st in the world boys singles). Having heard about a wheelchair rugby club being set up nearby, I initially decided to go and use the sport to gain fitness for my tennis. However with the sheer intensity, hard-hitting, fast paced nature of the sport I couldn’t help but fall in love with rugby and in 2010 I decided to make the switch from tennis to rugby.

Myles Pearson

Can you tell us about your experience so far, playing for Team GB Wheelchair Rugby?

Wow, where do I start!? Well in 2011, I made my debut against Finland which made me the youngest player to represent Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby ever. Since then I have been to two European Championships and of course the London 2012 Paralympic Games. I have also had some awesome experiences like living in South Florida for 2 months, playing at Twickenham and staying in some very cool hotels.

Tell us about your awards and trophies:

Funnily enough I have never won a tournament. However I have quite a few individual awards at national and international level, I also have a bronze and silver medal at the two European Championships I competed in although coming 2nd and 3rd isn’t good enough and so I try and keep them on the down low.

My individual awards include:

  • Two MVP’s at club level for the seasons 2010/11 and 2011/12.
  • Two ‘Best in Class’ awards more recently for Solent this season.
  • One ‘Best in Class’ at my very first international tournament in 2011.

You are a High Performance Academy (HPA) athlete. How has the HPA team helped you progress?

The HPA has been fantastic in helping me to juggle my academic studies and my sporting commitments. For somebody who left college very early to concentrate on their sport, coming back into an academic world can be hard work. So having the HPA to be that constant support has been very helpful. I have also been very lucky to have the strength and conditioning that I get, it’s very important that I am pushed to my limits to gain results on the court, so in that respect the HPA is top notch.

What sporting achievements are you most proud of?

It has to be making my debut for GB. I think being a young athlete is hard work so getting recognized at international level is the icing on the cake.

What is a typical training session/training day?

A typical training session at GB would consist of an hour of fitness in the morning, then we would go into technical and tactical stuff. The day would start at 8am and not finish until 5pm so by the end you are normally physically and mentally shattered.

A normal training day at Solent would consist of an hour of fitness in the morning. I will then follow that up with attempting to do some studying. In the afternoon I try and do some on-court fitness, however if I am unable to get the court then I will do some strength and conditioning. In the evening I will do some video analysis, studying either my own performances at a recent tournament or a certain opposition player or team.

What are the toughest challenges you are facing?

It has to be juggling my studies, sporting commitments and social life. Like I said earlier being a young athlete is hard work!

Do you have any upcoming competitions or sports events?

For Solent we round off the season with the national championships in May. I am then able to concentrate on GB with tournaments in America, Canada and Poland before ending this year in August at the World Championships in Denmark. I can’t wait to help GB get their first medal on the world stage!

What are your favourite sports?

It has to be football, I am a huge supporter of Liverpool. It has been good to see Liverpool play so well this season.

Who is your favourite athlete?

Probably David Beckham. He is a great ambassador for not only football but sport in general. He seems like a nice guy also, not letting the fame and fortune get to his head which I admire.

What are your hobbies and interests?

When I get time, I love spending time with my friends and family. It’s important as an athlete to not only have their support but make sure that you are able to reciprocate that same support when needed.

What are your plans for the future?

In my sporting career I intend to work hard and make sure I make the squad to go to Rio 2016. Before then we still have to qualify for Rio, at next year’s European Championships. So helping the squad do that is top of my list. I also want to help Team Solent Sharks gain promotion to division one and carry on helping to oversee their development. My academic studies are also a priority and I intend to move onto the Sports Journalism course next year, study hard and eventually come out with a degree in a few years!

For more information on our High Performance Academy (HPA), contact the team using Facebook.