A FORMER Glenrothes man who was left paralysed after being shot while serving with the army has been recognised for his sporting achievements, reports MIKE DELANEY.
Jason Black received the Spirit of Northern Ireland Award for “overcoming adversity” after world-class performances in wheelchair tennis and basketball.
He attended the awards ceremony despite continuing to suffer serious pain, the legacy of the bullet which struck him down when he was just 19 years-old as he tried to keep the peace in war-torn former Yugoslavia.
The chest wound left him with no mobility from the waist down, but in the years since that tragic day in Bosnia in 1993 he has shown incredible courage and ambition.
He played for the Great Britain wheelchair basketball team for 15 years and has won national tennis titles – he also coaches the sport - in Ireland, where he now lives and on this side of the water.
Once he recovered from his injuries, Jason was determined to live an independent life and even taking part in activities that some able-bodied people would baulk at – such as bungee-jumping in New Zealand.
Jason, who will be taking girlfriend Sarah on holiday with the free flights to Europe he won as part of the Specsavers-sponsored award, said: “I never let my disabilities get in the way.
“I don’t let it stop me doing anything.
“I just try to get on with my life as best I can.
“I try not to get down and I have a normal life as far as I am concerned but just in a slightly different way.
“It’s nice to be recognised in a way for what you have done over the years.”
But, in a remark that summed-up his modest personality, he added that all the other finalists deserved the award more than him!
Jason’s mother, Roberta, and his sister Fiona lived in Northern Ireland before he was shot and his father John – a former soldier who was, oddly, just an hour’s drive away from where his son was at the time is now deceased, but his grandmother, Margaret Black, continues to live in Glenrothes.
She said: “I have been across there a few times and he comes here once a year.
“That’s 18 years since it happened, but he has done really well for himself and I am so proud of him.”