Danny’s shot at making Team GB

NEW LEASE OF LIFE: Danny Nobbs
NEW LEASE OF LIFE: Danny Nobbs

BATTLING back from a life-threatening accident to challenge for ultimate sporting glory sounds fitting of a plot fabricated for the big screen, rather than the athletics field.

But for Paralympic shot putter Danny Nobbs, the script could be written for him to become one of Great Britain’s leading men this summer.

Lying in an intensive care unit following a motorbike accident in 1996, preparing for a Paralympic appearance in his home country would have been the least of a young Nobbs’ worries.

The county standard cricketer and football player, who once had trials with Norwich City, had seemingly had his promising sporting career cruelly snatched away in an accident that left him with a broken back and paralysed from the chest down.

With his confidence shattered, the former Attleborough High School pupil was hesitant to get back into the gym, until a meeting with a young disabled girl by the name of Rosey Clements, who was in need of a sensory room, gave Nobbs the focus to fight his demons and raise the required funds by conquering the Great North Run.

Nine months of hard graft, with help from Vinnies Gym owner John Vincent from Attleborough and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, following a surprise training invite to Middelsborough after an email for advice, led to an ‘exhausted’ Nobbs achieving his goal and, almost as importantly, rediscovering his love for sport.

“I have always been very sporty and it has always been a big part of my life,” he said. “However, after the accident my confidence was pretty low and I didn’t want to go back into the gym because I worried I wouldn’t be able to do what I used to.

“It wasn’t until meeting Rosey that I got back into training to help raise money for a sensory room for her, she gave me that initial inspiration to get back into sport.

“That is still the hardest thing I have ever done. I was exhausted and couldn’t move but importantly I had raised the money for Rosey.

“I was then approached to try field athletics and from there the rest is history.”

He added: “It has definitely given me a second lease of life. It has given me a massive focus and has allowed me not to waste my life.”

His natural ability with the shot putt, an event he enjoyed at school age, was evident and a surprise selection for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics in the F54 class followed after throwing the qualifying standard ‘out of the blue’. The 32-year-old would go on to claim a respectable fifth-place finish.

Nobbs admits London 2012 was always his realistic target and reflecting on his experience of Beijing, has revealed he would make more of a second appearance come August if selected on Monday.

“I never expected to get selected for the Beijing Olympics and had always looked at London as more realistic,” he added. “It was extremely exciting but I had no expectation, I was just in awe of everything.

“In Beijing I focused too much on the event itself and can’t remember too much of anything else.

“I would want to savour it this time because it is a massive honour to be there and I would love to be a part of it.”

One thing that Nobbs believes no-one can be prepared for is the added pressure of competing in front of a expectant capacity home crowd at the Olympic stadium.

However, the current world number three, who has already surpassed the 8.50-metre qualifying standard this year and will be competing at Stoke Mandeville on Saturday, revealed he would relish the vocal atmosphere as he reiterated his desire to clinch one of the coveted GB athletic berths.

“The pressure of a home crowd is a scary prospect but something I would look forward to,” he said. “You can’t really get to grips with how the stadium will be full but that support will be brilliant and should enhance your performance.

“For years all the work has been focused on this one event and it is massive for me, if I was selected it would be beyond words to describe that feeling.”