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Kylie Grimes encourages women to take up wheelchair rugby

"[The men] hit me just as hard... they don't treat me any differently and that's exactly the way it should be," says Great Britain's Kylie Grimes

Kylie Grimes
Image: Kylie Grimes represented Great Britain in the recent Quad Nations tournament

Fast, furious and uncompromisingly brutal; it's fair to say wheelchair rugby has traditionally been seen as male-dominated, despite being a mixed sport. But showing that the women of wheelchair rugby can equally get in on the action every time she takes to the court is Great Britain's Kylie Grimes.

Grimes began training with Team GB in 2011, and was included in the squad that claimed a fifth-place finish at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Last week she played an integral part in Great Britain's silver-medal success at the Quad Nations tournament in Leicester, which saw the host nation pick up conclusive victories against Canada and France before narrowly missing out to World Champions Japan 53- 51 in the battle for gold.

Grimes said: "I don't consider myself as anything other than a rugby player really. [The men] hit me just as hard, make me work just as much as them, they don't treat me any differently and that's exactly the way it should be.

"Of course there's a bit of testosterone flying around and you kind of have to go 'Calm it down! Calm it down! Come on!' sometimes, but you know I can deal with that," she said. "It's in my blood."

Great Britain's Kylie Grimes during the Group A match at the Basketball Arena, London.
Image: Grimes represented Team GB at the 2012 Paralympic Games

The Quad Nations tournament also marked the start of a return to international rugby for Grimes after she took some time out post-London 2012 to focus on athletics.

At Rio 2016 she finished in fourth place in the club throw event but couldn't resist the return to rugby when it came calling.

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"They didn't have a hard job convincing me to return, to be honest," said Grimes.

"Athletics is amazing and I love individual sport but I've played team sports my whole life and come from a big rugby family; it's in my blood.

Kylie Grimes of Great Britain competes in the women's club throw F51 final during the Evening Session on Day Three of the IPC Athletics World Championships at Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Doha, Qatar.
Image: Grimes had success in athletics before returning to wheelchair rugby

"I also got excited when I saw our high pointers coming on so well and I thought 'this is my chance to go back and join the boys' because as much as I enjoyed it before, as a low-point player I need high pointers to play my line, so if I don't have them, there's not really a space for me.

"But now we've got so much depth and variety in the team it's definitely looking strong for the next year and beyond. There's young, developing talent and it's great to see."

When she competed at London 2012 she was one of only two women and at this year's Quad Nations it was the same, but Grimes believes it's only a matter of time before there is more female representation on court.

"When I first started in 2009, I think there were only two or three women, then they dropped out of the sport and for a little while I was on my own," she said.

Kylie Grimes
Image: Great Britain won the silver medal at the recent Quad Nations in Leicester

"But gradually over the last few years we've had more and more females come through - there's young, developing talent and it's great to see."

The national governing body for the sport, Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, is working to increase awareness in the UK that wheelchair rugby, or 'Murderball' as it is also known, is accessible to women and girls who can compete as equals in mixed teams.

There is already evidence in the domestic league of more talent coming through as a result of this, including a player who captains division-two side West Country Hawks and is part of the GB Development squad, Faye West.

And with more and more women getting involved, Grimes has one hope for the future: "One day it would be a dream to go to a major tournament and have a strong all-female line-up in the mix. That would be fantastic, wouldn't it?"

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