An interview with Mike Brace

Mike Brace, CBE, DL is a former Paralympic skier and leader of disabled charities including Vision 2020 and the British Paralympic Association. He first represented Great Britain at the first Winter Paralympics in 1976.

In this interview he discusses his early life, his sporting career, and his involvement in disabled sports associations, from his own London sports club, Metro, to the British Paralympic Association and London 2012. Below are some of our favourite excerpts; you can also listen to the full interview here or download the transcript.

Discovering cross-country skiing: a sense of elation

In this extract, Mike describes the exhilaration of his first experience learning to cross-country ski in Beitostølen, Norway. 

Now, I'd been on skis for five days, and then managed to complete this 25 kilometre event at the end of the first week. And that for me - I just felt so proud. All everyone has been telling you for years is that you'll never be able to do this, and never be able to do that. And suddenly you've got this sense of elation, and achievement, you're in the outdoors. It was almost a spiritual moment really, out in the mountains.

Inner reserves: the Engadin ski marathon

Here, Mike discusses the extreme challenge of one of his most memorable races, the Engadin ski marathon in Switzerland.

By the end, I would say it's the nearest to total and utter exhaustion I've ever been. I pushed my body to the nth degree and another 10, 15% beyond that, and I don't think I'd ever want to feel quite so bad as that ever again. But it was something that you could then look back on and think, you know, I really had pushed myself to the outer limits. And that, in many ways, was another proud moment because you didn't think you could do any more. And then you did. And you didn't think you could do any more, and you did! And that's really stuck with me for the last 40 odd years. You know, it's been an incredible lesson that you can know you've got some inner reserves, you know you're going to be able to call on.

London 2012: 'A double double whammy'

Mike was chairman of Paralympics GB when London was invited to put in a bid for 2012. In this extract, he describes the excitement of receiving the phone call, and the personal significance of a London-based Games for him.

For me, one of the highlights towards the end of my active career was A) becoming chairman of Paralympics GB, but then a year into my chairmanship, getting a phone call saying, would I be supporting a bid for London 2012 for the games, and if successful, would I be on the organising committee. And, you know, by that stage, I just couldn't believe that it could get any better. I had my sporting career, and then suddenly, I'm involved in hopefully winning the the biggest sporting prize in the world for London, and being a Londoner as well, that was a double double whammy. 

Read Mike's work

Mike is the author of two books, “Where There’s A Will” and “Don’t Ask Me, Ask the Dog”. Both are available from Amazon in print and Kindle versions, and from RNIB for those with a vision impairment on talking books.