Meet Stephen Osborne: Longfield's Paralympic hopeful
PUBLISHED: 13:30 30 August 2012 | UPDATED: 13:36 30 August 2012
Approaching 50 can mean greying hair and a mid-life crisis, but one 49-year-old is taking up his place in the British Paralympic team - surrounded by athletes in their 20s.
Stephen Osborne had been training for just a year when he received the shock call to tell him he would be included in the 100m, making him the oldest member of the squad.
With 15 years of wheelchair rugby under his belt, he was introduced to athletics.
He said: “I’m starting to realise how much I have achieved and how lucky I have been to have such great coaches. Everything seemed to click in the year.
“This is a dream for me to be here and competing for my country. I have been in the chair for 30 years and it feels like it’s supposed to happen for me. It feels great to be in the red, white and blue.”
After suffering a broken neck in a car crash when he was 19, Stephen’s plans of becoming a carpenter were destroyed and he turned his focus to sport.
He believes his experience and conditioning give him the edge over his competitors.
“Being in a chair is new to some of these guys,” he said.
“You have got to be in the right position and get the right equipment for you – which can take a long time to find.”
Stephen, of Longfield, will race under the T51 classification which includes athletes with different levels of spinal injuries and amputations who compete in wheelchairs.
He says his inclusion in the squad is testament to his hard work and the facilities available to him in Gravesham.
“Before I took this on I didn’t realise the facilities we have in our area. I did a lot of training at Dartford swimming pool.
“I also trained at Dartford running track and there are always people there that don’t mind helping me because it takes two people to get me in my chair.”