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How The Youngest Steeler Turned Personal Tragedy Into A Wheelchair Rugby Triumph

  • The GIO 2018 IWRF Wheelchair World Championship starts in Sydney Olympic Park on Sunday 5 August;
  • Jayden is the youngest player on the Australian Steelers team, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the world;
  • The Opening Ceremony will be held at 12:30pm on Sunday, immediately followed by the opening match, Australia v New Zealand;
  • Match tickets and tournament passes available here
Image: 24 year old Jayden Warn in training preparing for the Wheelchair Rugby World Championships. Photo: Australian Paralympic Committee

Nathan Davis

JAYDEN Warn does not remember his 17th birthday. He was not drunk or partying underage – he was fighting for his life in the Royal Melbourne Intensive Care Unit after a shocking accident that resulted in him undergoing major spinal surgery.

“The day before my 17th birthday my mate and I were doing our normal Sunday afternoon thing, riding BMX up in the city (Melbourne). It was a lapse in concentration on my part, and a car hit me full tilt at an intersection going about 110km/h,” Warn said.

“I ended up fracturing six vertebrae in my neck and back and doing spinal damage to my C5. I spent my 17th birthday in the ICU. You could say it’s lucky that I don’t remember it.”

Fast forward seven years and Warn is preparing to represent his country at the GIO 2018 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championship as the youngest member of the Australian Steelers squad.

The 2018 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship will be held in Sydney Olympic Park next week, with 12 nations lining up at the Opening Ceremony from 12.30pm on Sunday 5 August. The first game will be Australia v New Zealand from 2.30pm . . . giving rugby fans an early taste of Bledisloe Cup rivalry.

Australia is currently ranked No. 1 in the world and the Steelers will be fighting to keep that title during the first World Championship to be held on home soil.

Warn, now internationally recognised as on the best players in his classification, was a member of the Australian 2014 Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby team that won the Gold Medal at the Rio Games.

But the Victorian admits he had to overcome huge obstacles to become a fulltime athlete.

“At first I found the physical side of Wheelchair Rugby challenging,” he said.

“Going from playing local stuff to getting thrown into the big leagues and amping up the training as much as I did was a major thing I had to overcome.

“But pretty much as soon as I got into that rugby chair I fell in love with the sport straight away. I always knew I wanted to get that Gold Medal and I worked incredibly hard to get there.”

Now choosing to spend his free time educating high school student on the importance of safe driving, Warn believes focusing on a sport was an integral part of his recovery process as it has been for many other men and women with disabilities.

“You get out and start doing some physical activity and playing sport and it dawns on you that what’s happened to us isn’t the end. There’s always things you can do and places you can go,” he said.

“I can honestly say I don’t know where I would be without Wheelchair Rugby.”

Catch the action at the 2018 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championship at Sydney Olympic Park. Tickets and event information here

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