Archery: Big decision on horizon for the county's pioneering Paralympian

LOTHERSDALE archer Danielle Brown historically tasted able-bodied success at October's Commonwealth Games – but fears she may be told to forget about repeating the trick next year.

Brown not only became the first disabled athlete to represent England in able-bodied competition at a Commonwealth Games but the first disabled athlete to medal as well.

The 22-year-old made history in the women's compound team competition alongside English team-mates Nicky Hunt and Nichola Simpson scooping gold after beating Canada in the final.

Brown's Commonwealth success in Delhi should come as no surprise with the Lothersdale, near Skipton, archer's trophy cabinet already boasting multiple Paralympic, world and European disabled titles.

She now wants to aim for able-bodied and disabled gold at next year's World Championships but revealed the powers that be may force her hand against it.

"The World Championships is the big one next year and I am hoping to make the able-bodied team again and I will be training hard for that," said Brown, speaking recently at the Commonwealth Games England and National Express Group Sponsorship launch at London's Guildhall.

"It is a different distance now but I have got to couple that with not burning myself out which I did this year and actually choosing which events to target.

"Able-bodied competition is a great experience and I am actually learning more, the guys on the team are just so experienced.

"They just know what they are doing and I am picking other peoples brain as well as the ones I already pick on the Paralympic team.

"But I don't know how it will work at the worlds because able-bodied and disabled competitions are at the same time and they are two different distances.

"I obviously really want to do both but I might just essentially be told that you have got to do the Paralympic one because that is where your funding is."

Brown's transition into able-bodied competition as well as disabled can go no further than the Commonwealth Games with her discipline – the compound – not on the Olympic schedule.

That leaves the London 2012 Paralympics as her main focus and Brown – who has recently moved to Telford to be closer to British Archery's headquarters – insists that shouldn't be forgotten.

"It honestly has surprised me how much attention I've had since I got back from Delhi because in my mind my Paralympic gold from Beijing is bigger – it's an individual one and it's Paralympic," she added.

"But I haven't had anywhere near the recognition in comparison and it is a bit bittersweet because it is only because it is able-bodied so there are marks there that need to be improved around that."

Brown suffers from a condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) which results in chronic pain in her feet, forcing her to shoot propped on a stool.

The compound archery event uses bows which utilise a system of levers and pulleys in order to fire the arrows.

Her rise to the heights in Beijing and Delhi has been a swift one.

At age 15, Brown took up archery after her illness meant other sporting pursuits proved tiresome.

A host of junior national titles followed and, she was fast-tracked onto the Paralympics development squad.

She narrowly missed out on a medal at the 2006 European Championships and also in the able-bodied 2006 World Junior Championships.

Her major international breakthrough came in 2007 when she won individual compound gold at the World Championships, as well as team gold with Pippa Britton and Mel Clarke.

Her 2010 campaign will be best remembered for the ripples she made in Delhi but it a trophy-laden year for the former law student.

Brown won individual and mixed team compound gold and women's team silver at the Para-archery European Championships. Then she took bronze along with Hunt and Nichola Simpson in the compound team event at the Shanghai World Cup.

With her studies now completed, Brown is to focus all her energies on the London 2012 Paralympics.

PAR – National Express is a principal sponsor of the Commonwealth Games England team until the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow, 2014. For more information go to www.weareengland.org