Para sport star Harrison Walsh knows more than most about how powerful sport can be in helping someone come to terms with a life-changing injury.
Now, he is urging other disabled people to get involved with the Swansea Para Sport Festival this summer.
Starting off with a Disability Sport Wales’ insport event at Swansea University on 1 August 2022, the festival will bring 5,000 participation opportunities across the summer, including five competitive events at different venues.
The Para Sport Festival will also add to the atmosphere around Swansea over the 6/7 August weekend, alongside the World Para Series Triathlon and Ironman 70.3 Swansea.
One of the main objectives of the festival is to offer opportunities to both elite and grassroots athletes of all ages.
In 2015, just a week before Harrison was due to play for rugby for Wales Under-20s against England, he sustained an horrendous leg injury in a freak accident playing in a club match for Swansea.
Consequently, it not only ended his rugby ambitions but left him with only partial movement and no feeling in his right foot due to the extent of the nerve damage.
“It was really important for me to find another sport as it plays such a huge part in the lives of both me and my family,” says Harrison, who was also on the books of the Ospreys.
“I was desperate for my passion for sport to remain and it was great to find that within disability sport.
“I really liked the motivation of getting better and better and it was important to continue that in another sport.”
Harrison is full of praise for Disability Sport Wales and is extremely thankful to them for helping him adjust to his new way of life.
“It’s hard to come up with the words to describe how good Disability Sport Wales are,” he says.
“They do so much work to promote sport at all levels. They’ve really helped me to settle into a new environment.
“People get impaired at different stages of their lives and they are really sensitive with how they help you.
“I came from high level sport and DSW were really good with helping me adjust to a new way of life.
“I can’t thank people like Nathan (Stevens), Anthony (Hughes) and all the other athletes enough.”
Harrison’s mental resolve was once again tested at last year’s Paralympics when he got injured at the very last moment.
“I got injured out in Tokyo but that’s sport for you, unfortunately.
“I was really gunning to do well out there, but it was a pleasant surprise to get selected in the first place as it wasn’t something I was expecting at the beginning of the year.
“My form last year was a lot better than I expected and I was just really thankful to earn the opportunity.
“I still took a lot of learnings from Tokyo and hopefully they will help me win gold in Paris, Brisbane and LA, hopefully.”