Craig Mccann Fencing

Hometown: Doncaster, Milton Keynes
Sport: Wheelchair fencing
Event: Men's team foil
Games: London 2012

Craig McCann first started his Wheelchair Fencing career in April 2010. After making immense progress in the sport, he debuted in the Malaga World Cup, in Spain, just a year later.

At London 2012, Craig made his Paralympic Games debut in the Men's Team Foil, competing alongside compatriots David Heaton and Simon Wilson. The trio lost their classification match to Hungary and were drawn against Hong Kong in the quarter finals, the highest ranked team in the competition. However, the British team fought strongly and finished in 8th place.

At just 19 years of age, Craig was diagnosed with a brain tumour after a routine medical examination by the Royal Air Force (RAF). He underwent immediate surgery at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield and an extensive rehabilitation programme followed.

Craig continued his passion for rowing at university but, due to his earlier surgery, was left with nerve damage resulting in limb weakness and problems with both his hearing and sight.

Determined to overcome his disability, Craig found himself participating in a Paralympics Potential Day run by the British Paralympic Association. Despite his intentions to impress the rowing team, it was the Wheelchair Fencing Team who recruited Craig.

Outside of his sport, Craig is an ambassador for Neurocare, who provide Royal Hallamshire Hospital with essential medical equipment for those requiring brain surgeries. He will also be participating in Deloitte's cycling challenge from John O'Groats to Land's End - 'Ride Across Britain.'

The following questions were prepared by students at Herbert Thompson Primary School, Cardiff.

Have you written a biography?

Not yet... I think I still have a lot more experiences to gain and great things to achieve before someone would want to read about my life.

Why did you want to join the RAF?

A few members of my family have served in the RAF and I grew up next to a base in South Yorkshire so it was a natural decision after I left school, as at the time I didn't really want to go on to University and the RAF offered a great career potential.

Why did you decide to get a tattoo?

I love tattoos and each one I have has a special meaning and marks an important part of my life so far. I hope to have many more important occasions in my life and so many more tattoos.

How can you improve your fencing ability?

As with anything in life, be it sport, school work or something else you want to be good at you have to put in lots of practice. As a fencer we had lessons with coaches and trained with each other a lot to practice things but we also had to be fit enough to do all this and so had to spend time in the gym too.

What age did you start fencing?

I started fencing very late, when I was 26, after being spotted by a coach at a Paralympic Potential event before the London Paralympic Games.

Is your sport ever harmful to you?

Fencers wear special protective equipment that stops you getting hurt when you get hit and the swords are also designed to bend so they don't hurt too much. Accidents do happen though but only ever result in a few bruises.

What went through your mind when you found out you were going to participate in the Paralympics?

I was extremely happy at the news and proud that all my hard work and sacrifices paid off in a way that would let me represent my country at the biggest sporting event ever.

When was your first major fencing victory?

Being selected to represent GB in London was itself a great victory but my best result was at a competition in Hong Kong last December when I managed to beat a number of very good and extremely experienced fencers.

Do you have any other interests apart from fencing?

I enjoy sports in general so I enjoy watching and taking part in a number of sports. I also enjoy cycling, swimming and running a lot too and so I am hoping to compete in cycling or triathlon competitions in the near future.

Who inspires you?

James Cracknell inspires me the most and is my biggest hero. My sporting life started as a rower when I was at University and so looking at his achievement of two Olympic gold medals and six world championship gold medals in rowing is very inspiring. A few years ago he also received a bad brain injury after a cycling accident but has worked hard to come back and be able to compete in competitions again. This is very inspiring to me as it shows me what I could achieve after having my brain tumour.

Why are you taking part in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain?

My journey with ParalympicsGB started with the talent day I went to and after the support that the British Paralympic Association have given me this is a way to give back as the Ride Across Britain sponsors the BPA. Before the talent day I didn't really know about disability sport. Parasport, the organisation that Deloitte supports, helps people with disabilities learn more about disability sport and I want to help promote them so that hopefully more disabled people can take up sport. I also have a number of very good friends at Deloitte who have shown me amazing support over the last couple of years and I want to say thank you. I hope that the ride can also help as some good training for my sporting plans in the future.

Have you ever cycled on a tandem before?

I have never been on a tandem before but have been working hard with my cycling partner to learn to be able to ride it well. It is a strange experience but one I am looking forward to a great deal.