MIKE KERR has one last shot of winning a Paralympic medal.
Yet the Team GB wheelchair rugby ace insists he is under less pressure then ever — despite going into what he says will be his last Games.
Kerr, 33, was vice-captain at London 2012 and skippered Britain at the World Championships two years ago — leading the team to fifth place both times.
But after losing the captaincy in July 2015 to Chris Ryan, he feels like the shackles are off.
Kerr admitted: “I felt more pressured at London because I was the vice-captain and I had a lot more responsibility. This time I’ve not got anything like that.
“I just want to enjoy the experience this time.
“If I can pass on some of my knowledge to the first-time Paralympians then that’s great but, personally, I just plan to enjoy it and take it all in.
“I have been given a bit of freedom. I was vice-captain at London and captain at the World Championships.
“I’ll be able to focus on myself this time and enjoy it.”
Britain go into the Paralympics on the back of a gold medal triumph at the European Championships in Finland last year.
But for Kerr, medalling in Rio is what will bring him the closure he needs for retirement.
The Glaswegian said: “GB rugby has never medalled at the Paralympics. That’s the goal everyone is striving towards, to get that medal which has eluded us for all these years.
“It would mean the world to me. It doesn’t really matter what colour the medal, to be honest. Just to get one would be a massive achievement.”
He added: “If I don’t win a medal here it’s the only thing I would still aspire to achieve.
“I’ve been captain of the team, vice-captain, I’ve represented the team for the last ten years so I don’t think there’s anything else.”
GB get under way against Group A opponents Australia next Wednesday, before taking on Canada and hosts Brazil in the following days.
As one of the most high-contact sports at the Paralympics, wheelchair rugby — formerly called Murderball — sees teams of four players clatter into each other on a basketball court throughout four eight-minute quarters.
Kerr never imagined he would have the chance to play such a rough-and-tumble game after tragically breaking his neck aged 17 while away on a lads’ holiday.
But the lifelong Celtic fan — who had been lined up to join the Army a month after his diving accident — soldiered on to fight his way into Team GB.
His advice for anybody else faced with similar challenges is simply: “Never give up.”
Kerr said: “For myself, it took a lot of years for me to get selected for the team but I never gave up, I just kept plodding along. I left no stone unturned. That’s the passport for any other sport as well.
“I wondered for a while what I was going to do with my life because I was only ever really good at sport.
“I was signed up to join the Army and due to start my basic training in September and I had my accident in August.
“Then I found out about wheelchair rugby and the first time I tried it I fell in love with it straight away.
“I didn’t think I would make it to this level but it was good to use the sport to get my fitness and health back.
“I knew it was what I wanted to focus my life and my time on.”
NATIONAL LOTTERY funding has helped Mike Kerr take part in an average of 35 international games a year. Mike came on to UK Sport’s World Class Programme in 2005 and National Lottery players have helped fund cutting-edge research into wheelchair technology, allowing the BT GB team to progress at international level. National Lottery funding is also supporting sport in Mike’s home town of Glasgow — over 400 grants have been made to local clubs and facilities.
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