Darren Harris is a dual Paralympian, competing in football at the London 2012 and judo at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

 5 a-side football match between Great Britain and Turkey at the London 2012 Paralympic Games on September 8th 2012.
Image ©GettyImages

Early Life

Darren was born in Wolverhampton on 20th June, 1973. He was diagnosed with a type of cancer in both eyes known as bilateral retinoblastoma aged fifteen months, which led to a gradual loss of eyesight.

He attended New College Worcester which is a unique secondary school for individuals who have visual impairments.  Sports became an important outlet for Darren while at New College Worcester, giving him focus and direction.  He went to university for mathematics and then worked in the information technology sector.  However, he eventually turned to that which he had found all those years before: football.

Life as a Paralympic athlete

Darren has a B1 classification (which is explained further by British Blind Sport).

Darren joined the England Blind Football Team in 1996, became captain in 2002 and helped the team qualify for the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.  However, the team was prevented from playing; all four home nations wouldn't sanction the team to participate as Great Britain.

Of course, this was a heavy blow to many of the players, and Darren decided to pursue a different path. Already a black-belt in judo,
Darren began training full time, and made his Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008. However, he gave up competitive judo in 2011 following injuries, claiming it to be, “a young man’s game”

Darren returned to football and played at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, claiming:

I feel like I’m playing better now than I ever did ... I don’t know what the reason is, but long may it continue.

He continued to play for the British Team at the World Games in 2015 and both the European Championships in 2017 and 2019.  

Retirement as a Paralympic athlete

Darren is an incredibly popular motivational speaker, life coach and workshop facilitator. Watch one of his presentations here: TEDxWolverhampton


Darren with students at Waddesdon Primary School as part of the Stories from Buckinghamshire project

Achievements and Awards

Paralympic Games

Darren represented Great Britain in judo at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics in the -66 kg weight category and in football at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Other Sporting events

In football, Darren is England's most capped blind player, making 157 appearances, scoring 34 goals, and winning ten World and European medals between 1997 and 2019.

In judo, Darren also won a silver medal at the 2007 and a bronze medal at the 2009 European Championships.

Other awards and recognition

Darren was awarded an Albion Foundation Star for his 'Outstanding Contribution to WBA Teams'. He is recognised as one of the world's best strikers in blind football, winning the League and Cup trophies three times each and the Golden Boot five times.

Darren received an Honorary Doctorate in 2014 from the Open University for Outstanding Public Service.

Darren chooses his favourite object at the Heritage Centre


  • “Understanding Classifications.” British Blind Sport, 17 Jan. 2022,
  • “Darren Named in ParalympicsGB Five-a-Side Squad for London 2012.” Team Bath, University of Bath, 18 Apr. 2012,
  • “How to Get Involved with Blind Football.” The FA, The Football Association,