Haynes local Jake Howe has been chosen to represent Australia at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics playing for wheelchair Rugby Team the ‘Steelers’.
Mr Howe was left quadriplegic after a freak accident in 2012 where he spent six months in hospital and rehab before making it out in time for his son Lucas’ birth a month later.
During his time in rehab, the local WA wheelchair rugby team visited and gave a demonstration of the sport.
“I really liked it and about six months after getting out of rehab, I started playing locally and haven’t stopped since,” he said.
Mr Howe said during nationals in 2016 the Australian coach was watching and after the Rio Paralympics he was invited to a futures camp.
“I was nervous for the first three years internationally and I was only really getting over those feelings just before COVID.
“It’s been a while since we’ve seen anyone internationally, the nerves will be there.
“I get jitters when hearing our national anthem before the game but once I switch into game mode, I get focused.”
Mr Howe is the only member of the Steelers from WA, and the third ever Western Australian to compete on the team.
“I get to catch up with people I haven’t seen in ages and I don’t really clash with anyone because I’m not really travelling with them,” he said.
“I do have a steady group of guys from the local WA side that join me on my Monday session so they’ve all definitely helped with preparing.”
“One thing COVID helped with is that the team is probably closer together now because we’ve done a lot of virtual training using handcycles at home.”
Mr Howe said he is has gone to pretty good places since the accident.
“There is always a life beyond an accident, I wouldn’t have done or achieved any of this if I didn’t have my accident,” he said.
Mr Howe has a strong support system ready to cheer him on in Tokyo including partner Nikki Griffiths who said she is proud of what he has acheived.
“He is often humble about it but I think what he’s doing is a really big deal,” she said.
Member for Armadale and Minister for Sport and Recreation Tony Buti said it was great to have the opportunity to support Mr Howe as a member of the Steelers.
“Congratulations and good luck to Jake and the rest of the team,” he said.
“I wish them every success and will be closely following their matches.”