Former Team Bath judo player Darren Harris had been selected to compete at his second successive Paralympic Games – but this time as a footballer.
Darren is a visually impaired athlete and currently does some of his conditioning work at Team Bath.
He represented Great Britain in the judo competition at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and returns to action at London 2012, this time as a member of the Great Britain five-a-side football squad in a competition for players with a visual impairment.
Darren, who has trained at Team Bath since 2006, is a member of the 10-strong GB five-a-side squad for the 2012 Paralympic Games.
“I’m really excited about playing at 2012,” said Darren, who already had 84 England caps when he ‘retired’ from football in 2007 to concentrate on judo.
“I feel like I’m playing better now than I ever did,” added the striker. “I don’t know what the reason is, but long may it continue.
“I planned to retire after Beijing, I didn’t honestly believe I’d be at 2012 but officially I went back to football last June.
“I love judo, but it’s a young man’s game. The training we used to do for judo was phenomenal. I just do judo as a social thing now though.”
Darren made his Paralympic Games debut in 2008 competing in the under-66kg judo class. He was unlucky to meet Cuba’s Victor Sanchez in the quarter-finals – the Cuban won and went on to take bronze.
Darren won judo silver at the 2007 Visually Impaired European Championships and followed that up with bronze at the same competition in 2009. He played for the England team that won bronze at the 2011 Visually Impaired European Futsal Championships in Turkey in September.
Juergen Klinger, Team Bath’s high performance judo coach, said: “We’re delighted for Darren. He’s a fine athlete and has worked really hard both at judo and football. He’s always been very popular with our judo group and we’ll all be cheering him on at London 2012.”
Darren, who was born in Wolverhampton, plays for West Brom’s visually impaired football team and is currently splitting his time between the West Midlands and Bath. Since returning to football he has collected a further 11 international caps, taking his total to date to 95.
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