Kylie Grimes has been an athlete, show jumper, and aspiring Olympian all of her life, within just three years of her life-changing spinal injury in 2006 Kylie returned to competitive sport by cycling 450 km, from Vietnam to Cambodia, to raise money for Regain, a charity dedicated to helping get newly injured tetraplegics back into sport. Having undergone remarkably swift personal rehabilitation herself, she now seeks to help others do the same and continues to undertake sponsored rides around the world for Regain.
She started playing for the London Wheelchair Rugby Club in 2010, and for Great Britain in 2011. In 2012 she qualified for her first Paralympics in London in which the team finished fifth.
She switched to Athletics and competed in the World Championships in Doha in 2015; the Rio Paralympics in Rio, where she finished fourth; and the London World Championships in 2017 where she came fifth.
Returning to her team in 2018, she and the British Wheelchair Rugby Team won gold in Denmark to become the European Champions. They have competed in championships across the world and continue to train for the Tokyo games, now set for 2021. (www.kyliegrimes.com)
Rachel Rose: Thanks so much for answering our questions Kylie, you’ve got quite an incredible story. What was it that caused your injury?
Kylie Grimes: I had a diving accident in August 2006, 14 years ago now. At the time I was 18 years old and had just finished college. I broke my neck at C6 level which has left me paralysed from the chest down with limited hand function.
RR: So, what got you into sports to begin with and what made you pick rugby?
KG: I’ve always played sports; I was in Farnham Town Girls’ football and rugby teams as a child and competed for Surrey in Netball. I was also Show jumping at the time of my accident. I always said I was going to be in the Olympics one day. So, after my accident I looked up sports I could still play and wheelchair rugby came up. I went to see the guys training while I was still in rehabilitation. The moment I heard two chairs crash together I knew I had to play the sport.
RR: That’s amazing! And pretty intense. What has been your proudest moment?
KG: My proudest moment to date Is pulling on my GB vest for the first game against the USA at a home Paralympic Games in London 2012.
RR: Yeh I can imagine that was an amazing moment. You’re really inspirational with what you showcase on your social media, have you found it a useful tool to connect and communicate?
KG: I absolutely love social media if it is used in the correct way. I love being open all about my spinal injury and what it’s like to live with every day. The good and the bad. Also, the amazing things I get to do in sport and life. I find it so useful to spread awareness and hopefully inspire people to go out there and live their lives to the full. We are privileged to live this life we have and I really enjoy sharing my journey with people.
RR: That’s such a wonderful way of looking at it. With everything you know now, if you could go back, what piece of advice would you give your younger self?
KG: I’ve always been a very hard-working person even as a teenager. But I would tell myself to not worry about the small things because there’s no wrong choices in this world, everything
you do lead on to another opportunity. So, work hard, love what you do and enjoy the ride.