Danny Crates competed in T46 (arm amputee) running events, representing Britain at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, winning the bronze medal in the 400m sprint; and at the Athens 2004 Paralympics where he won gold in the 800m.

Danny Crates winning the Mens 800m at the Athens 2004 Paralympics

Danny winning the Mens 800m at the Athens 2004 Paralympics. Image ©Getty Images

Early life

Danny grew up in Essex and from an early age he was very engaged in sports including athletics and rugby. In his teenage years he focussed on his rugby career, representing Essex and the Eastern Counties with the dream to become a professional rugby player.

In 1994, aged 21, Danny lost his right arm in a car crash while on a gap year in Australia.  After the accident he knew he would never be able to play rugby again at the same level he did before, but quickly realised that he was still able to do more than he expected. Within a year he was back on the field playing able-bodied rugby.

He returned to Australia with a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to study diving for disabled and qualified as a scuba diving instructor. This led to a job at the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre where he shared a tank with 20 sharks. 

After one of his rugby games received attention by the media, Danny was contacted by British Athletics who invited him to meet Paralympians that had competed at the Atlanta 1996 Games. It took two years of consideration until this invitation sparked his return to athletics giving him another chance to represent England on an international level.

Danny talks about transitioning from able-bodied rugby to amputee running

Life as a Paralympic athlete

I never aspired to be a Paralympian, nor an athlete at all. I took part in athletics and rugby when I was younger but stopped running at 16. I was a trained engineer at 20 but when work dried up, I went to Australia – and it was there where my life changed.

Danny made his Paralympic debut at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, where he represented Britain in the T46 (arm amputee) 400m sprint and won the bronze medal. Missing out on the gold medal left him bitterly disappointed. After Sydney he switched from 400m to 800m and 4 years later at the Athens 2004 Paralympics he finally won the gold medal.

2002 was the first year that I combined 400m and 800m training, and of course, you make sacrifices. I was fourth in both the 800m and the 400m. I lost all my funding, had a really tough year. The breakthrough came in 2004 when I broke the world record at the AAA championships.

Danny's interview about middle distance running

The Paralympic gold medal was followed by numerous wins at European and world level and Danny received the prestigious honour of carrying the British flag at the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic games. Unfortunately, he was unable to compete due to an Achilles injury.

Danny Crates, flag bearer at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games opening ceremony

Flag bearer at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games opening ceremony. Image ©Getty Images

Retirement as a Paralympic athlete

Since retiring as a Paralympic athlete at the age of 36, Danny’s media career flourished, and he has since received a lot of attention for his lead-presenting role during channel 4s BAFTA-winning coverage of the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The innovative media coverage of London 2012 reached more people than ever before changing people’s attitude towards the Paralympics.

Danny commentating on the 2012 London Paralympics

Danny also presented the World Para Athletics Championships in London, 2017 and is a regular reporter and presenter on BBC 1 where he also hosted his own widely acclaimed radio show. He also appeared on popular TV shows such as Celebrity Master Chef, where he reached the quarter finals in 2015.

Achievements and awards

In 2012 Danny published his autobiography ‘Danny Boy’, which discusses his recovery journey after the accident. It was awarded the Evening Standard top Sports Book of the Year 2012 award.


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