Paralympics: McBride seeks glory at Dorney

Waikato's Danny McBride. Photo / Getty Images
Waikato's Danny McBride. Photo / Getty Images

It was almost impossible to sneak through the Olympic rowing village four weeks ago without bumping into a Kiwi as black singlet-wearing athletes and Rowing New Zealand's support staff littered the temporary compound.

Three weeks on though it's an entirely different place and only two kiwis call Royal Holloway home: Waikato's Danny McBride and coach Norman Charlton; but that's just the way McBride likes it.

After all, the solitary life as a single sculler is one of the reasons he switched from wheelchair basketball to rowing.

"When [Paralmypics New Zealand] put out the expression of interest in the 'Xcelerate 2 Xcellence programme' that's why I ticked the rowing box, it was something I really wanted to do, especially the single sculling. Working in forestry you do spend a lot of time by yourself, when you're felling [trees] for eight hours a day it's just you and the chainsaw. Rowing's not quite as long in training, but yeah I like the solitude," McBride explained.

The individual nature of the competition was also a big attraction for the father of two.

"It's up to me, it was up to me how many trees got put on the ground and now it's up to me how hard I train and I really enjoy it."

The other stark difference to New Zealand's Paralympic rowing campaign is the style in which McBride's injury means he has to race.

McBride was paralysed from the waist down after being struck by a falling rotten tree while working in the bush in 1999. He still works in the forestry industry, but now as a safety officer.

When Mahe Drysdale was thundering down Dorney to claim his long awaited gold, his power came from his legs, but for McBride lugging a chainsaw about the bush for forty hours a week has come in handy.

"My coach Norm says your legs are like a V8 and I think I've got a V2 in my arms," McBride joked.

He had never rowed before his accident but that's not about to get in his way.

"When you do something over and over, that's all you know and I guess it becomes easier and easier. I guess I'm lucky I've got the build to have done alright," he said.

Being in London is a dream come true for the 43-year-old and it's the other half of the reason for taking up rowing.

"Getting to the Paralympics was always a goal of mine, right from when I started playing sport [again] and I've been lucky enough to have been to two world champs and here I am at the Paralympics. I would have loved to have done it with basketball but I'm so proud to be here with rowing, I just love rowing, it's awesome."

With no others in McBride's class in New Zealand it's hard to get a gauge on just how well he will go in London.

Lining up against eleven others is a far cry from racing the clock on Lake Karapiro.

However, the 2010 world championship bronze medallist was in high spirits this week and with the support of his extended family joining him in London, anything could happen.

His first race is on day two, Saturday night at 9:10pm NZT.

- APNZ

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