A look back at Doncaster's Paralympic heroes ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

With the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics upon us, let’s take a look back at two of Doncaster’s most recent Paralympic representatives.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 11:08 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 11:50 am

There are few occasions more inspiring than the Paralympics. To watch people overcome physical and mental barriers to achieve athletic accomplishments is always breathtaking.

Doncaster has had its share of Paralympic heroes in the past. To honour their accomplishments, here are two of Doncaster’s most cherished competitors in the history of the Paralympics.

Joanna Butterfield

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Nikos Papangelis of Team Greece competes during the Men's C2 Time Trial on day 7 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Jo Butterfield made history in the 2016 Rio Paralympics when she set a new world record in F51 club throwing. She reached a distance of 22.81 metres, which was more than enough to earn her a gold medal. This record has yet to be beaten – it remains as the furthest F51 throw in history

Butterfield, once a civil servant in the Army, was diagnosed with a spinal tumour in 2011. This rendered her paralysed, but it didn’t stop her from striving for greatness.

She was raised in Woodlands, just outside of Doncaster. Later on in life, Butterfield moved from Doncaster to Glasgow, where she did her spinal rehabilitation. Initially a player of wheelchair rugby, she took up discus and club throwing shortly after.

She received an MBE in 2017 for her services and contributions to her sport and Paralympic events. Butterfield will be hoping to break new ground again in 2021, as she has been chosen as part of Team GB’s Paralympics team for the second time.

Craig Collis-McCann

Aged 19, while applying join the RAF, Craig Collis-McCann discovered something that would change his life. A brain tumour was discovered - the resulting operation to remove it left him with permanent nerve damage to the left side of his body.

However, Collis-McCann didn’t let this get in his way. He has competed in two different Paralympic sports - wheelchair fencing and para-cycling.

While he has yet to receive an Olympic medal (although he did win a silver medal in the ParaCycling World Championships), his contributions to para-athletics cannot be understated. He has given motivational speeches to para-athletes and has served as a mentor to them.

He continues to be an inspiration to this day. Despite not competing in this year’s Paralympics, he’ll be cheering on his wife, Gemma, who is competing in the women’s wheelchair fencing event.