This month we are honouring the Paralympic GB team for their dedication to their sport and their participation in Tokyo 2020. Well done Paralympics GB!! We have been lucky to catch up with Paralympian Stephen McGuire, who competed in the Boccia BC4 class, to gain a fascinating insight into life as a Paralympian with a Neuromuscular condition…
Having been inspired by watching the Olympics in Sydney and Athens, Stephen decided to take up a sport. Being realistic about his abilities having a neuromuscular condition, he found a good fit with Boccia, a target based sport. Stephen was able to access the Scottish Disability Sport pathway and hoped to progress to a standard that might help him reach his dream of competing at Paralympic level.
Stephen has competed in the last three Paralympic Games and describes the most recent games in Tokyo as being on par with London 2012 for him. “We were competing in a fantastic new facility. The seating was built from sustainably sourced wood. The Village was world-class. The accommodation was the best I have ever been in. But the best thing of the whole experience for me was the Japanese people.”
When asked about the impact of competing when you have Muscular Dystrophy, Stephen explained that due to the access of world-class experts, an individualised plan and a conditioning programme, his condition has somewhat stabilised at the moment. He is also mindful about listening to his body and mentioned having to substitute a gym session for swimming if feeling fatigued. “It keeps me active, allows me to work hard throughout the week and then recovers well with soft tissue massage”. Stephen credits strength and conditioning guru Bob as playing a big part in maintaining his condition over the last decade.
Lockdown threw a curveball and suddenly there was doubt over whether the games would go ahead. The squad had to adapt and Stephen’s living room became his gym. It brought the athletes closer together as they kept in touch, quizzed regularly, held virtual exercise sessions and tried to turn it into a positive. “I believe lockdown has helped me get over aches and pains which had been niggling for a while. I had a chance to heal properly and then restart”.
Now the Paralympic cycle begins again, Stephen feels they are starting from a good point for Paris 2024. As well as thoughts turning to the next games, he mentions an interest in coaching and passing on what he has learnt: the intricacies about equipment, best techniques and tactics at a top level. His brother, who also has MD, has made the transition from playing at the international level to coaching, inspiring players with his passion. If the opportunity arose, it would seem a natural next step for Stephen.
Away from competing, Stephen loves travelling and experiencing new cultures is a passion that he hopes to resume once travelling is easier. With a preference for warm climates, he loves the beautiful scenery of Lake Garda in Italy and his visits to the historically rich Czech Republic.