Stuart Weir wrote this piece when he did not see the star American did not appear in lane five in Dubai in the T44 100m…
Where is Richard Browne?
In the 2015 IPC World Athletics Championships, Richard Browne won the T44 (below knee amputees’ race) 100m in 10.61. That made him the fastest Paralympian in the world, just ahead of Jason Smyth (10.62) in the T13 visual impairment class. Richard was great for the sport. His press conferences were always lively. He liked to tell people that he was only a second slower than Usain Bolt and the gap was closing. He had ambitions to get fast enough to be invited to IAAF events.
According to www.paralympic.org, Browne “briefly retired from the sport after withdrawing from the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro due to a hamstring injury. He made a comeback in 2017”. According to my notes from 2017, he was listed to run three times in the UK in 2017 and did not turn up to any of them.
Then in May 2019, there he was tweeting – never short of an opinion – “So apparently the people running @US Paralympics track and field have NO CLUE of what they’re doing. With a long season and pre-games, they obviously know nothing about training cycles, injury prevention, etc…..” A few days later he enthused: “Sherman went 11.06 today!!! The German [Felix Streng] goes 10.75!!! Can see a final where every competitor goes under 11 in Dubai”.
Incidentally, in 2007 an accident sent him through a plate glass window, which resulted in an arterial bleed that caused his right leg to be permanently damaged. In 2010, after 14 surgical operations, his leg was amputated. “I was 16 years old in the prime of my life. I go through a window one day and from that point on my life is changed forever.”
Para athletics gave him an outlet for his talent and he won a silver medal at the London 2012 Paralympics, gold and silver at the 2013 World Championships and three golds at the 2015 Worlds. Then in 2016 he was involved in a car accident, also had hamstring issues, withdrew from the 2016 Paras and has hardly run since.
Imagine my excitement when I saw that Richard was on the US Roster for Dubai. On the morning of the prelims, I check the start list “Richard Browne, USA” is there in lane 5. Then the stadium announcer ruins the day: “Lane 5, Richard Browne does not start”. I speak to the US press attachÃ©, who tells me he is in USA. He did not come to Dubai. [Now that raises a question about what kind of checks the IPC make in compiling its startlists, if you can be listed without even being in the right continent, but that is another question].
UK is in the midst of an Election campaign – a bit like the last US Presidenital campaign, the ballot paper will say “which of these candidates for Prime Minister do you hate least?” – and a senior political recently failed to show for a TV interview. The resourceful TV journalist put an empty chair in front of her and interviewed the politician in absentia, asking the chair all the questions that she wanted to put to the politician.
I want to ask Richard Browne’s empty lane these three questions:
What happened to all the bravado and ambition to take disability sprinting to a new level?
Can’t you just retire or not retire and stop wasting everyone’s time?
Why do you keep agreeing to run and then just not turn up?
The lane remains silent.