IAN Rice has become the first adult since Alastair Hignell to play rugby for Bristol and cricket for Gloucestershire.
The sports photographer last weekend made his debut for Gloucestershire Javelins, the county’s side for players with physical and/or learning disabilities, some 18 months after appearing for what was then Bristol Rugby’s wheelchair team before the arrival of the Bears branding.
Ian said: “Pulling on a shirt with the blue and white hoops of Bristol was fantastic, and it was also a very big deal to take to the field wearing a Gloucestershire cricket shirt despite being 52 and a wheelchair user.”
Ian, who played for Knowle as a top-order batsman in his younger days, stresses that he is not comparing himself to Hignell who also played rugby for England and hit a century for his county against the West Indies.
But as well as their shared sporting stories, the two men have been diagnosed in later life with multiple sclerosis.
Ian, who has had the condition for about 12 years, made his Gloucestershire Javelins debut in a six-wicket win away to Dorset Disabled at Martinstown.
He added: “What I really hope my little story shows is that with imagination and determination many surprising things are possible, even at my age.
“There are wonderful opportunities out there for people with physical and/or learning difficulties who may have no idea that you can play any number of sports.
“Being disabled is no barrier, and participating or competing in sport has so many benefits, from physical exercise and providing a sense of achievement and pride to having a very significant positive impact on one’s mental health and sense of well being.”
For details of the Javelins, visit: https://www.gloucestershirecricketboard.com/disability-cricket/county-teams/