Garry Brown is a CP7 according to Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA), and a right-side hemiplegic. But it is not something that has ever even remotely slowed him down. With two stellar sporting careers under his belt, Garry is just warming up.
He was only 9-years old when he entered his first swimming competition representing Scotland at the British Junior Championship.
What began as a form of exercise on advice from his doctor as a child, led Garry to win more than 1000 medals across the course of his international swimming career.
But in the year 2000, Garry swapped the pool for the lawn and is yet again taking the international stage by storm.
In 2018, Garry represented Scotland in lawn bowls at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“It’s the highest honour a bowler – able-bodied or disabled – can get and highest level at which we can compete,” he says.
What was his journey to playing lawn bowls at an international level?
Garry says his journey to competing on the international lawn bowls stage has been hard and full of long and countless hours of practice for many competitions.
While he was social bowling right alongside his competitive swimming career, it wasn’t until he retired his bathing cap that he took bowls more seriously.
“I was spotted at a talent identification day by Scottish Disability Sport and was asked to attend a squad session with coaches,” says Garry.
Once there, he was invited to be part of the Scottish team who would go on to compete at the British Championships.
“It all just spiralled from there,” he says.
“I’ve been a member of outdoor and indoor clubs since 2000, competing in many competitions alongside able-bodied bowlers.”
He’s achieved great things, but were there challenges?
“The main challenge to overcome being an athlete with CP is in building up stamina and muscle memory,” says Garry.
“I needed to train my body to do the same thing again and again.
“But I haven’t really had any challenges,” he says modestly.
“My club mates have been first class and are always there to help.”
How important are competitive sports for the CP community?
“It’s extremely important,” Garry says.
“Every athlete has got to have a goal and something to work towards and competitive to work towards.
“Competitive sport gives everyone that. It’s a great way to get notice, accepted and show that we are no different,” he says.
What about young people living with CP who are thinking about competitive sport?
Garry’s advice: Do it!
“There are so many sports and there’s one for everyone,” he says.
“It’s a great way to meet people and also to get exercise.”
His parting words,” Smash barriers and reach new highs while maybe winning awards and medals.”