Andrew adds another international gold medal to his collection – this time in pickleball
From wheelchair tennis to rugby sevens, the 53-year-old Denmead man has tasted success at the highest level, also claiming a tennis gold at the 2016 Invictus Games.
And the former soldier, who plays his pickleball in Gosport, has taken his racquet skills over to pickleball, where he struck gold at Bolton Arena in his debut tournament.
“It’s been very enjoyable. It’s my first tournament as well so I’m happy about that,” he said.
“Friends of ours are here today, someone who I was best man for 25 years ago and he said to come along to a session and have a go.
“Then I went to a local David Lloyd and tried out a few sessions and I’ve never looked back.
“I did a lot of sports when I was younger. I was in the army and I just always loved sport.”
“I won 2014 gold with Gaz Golightly in London and we had a great time so it’s nice to be here with him today.”
Over the past year, pickleball has seen a meteoric rise in the UK due to its inclusive and accessible nature, with an estimated 12,000 regular players and over 450 venues offering the sport across the country.
There are now 682 athletes attending the National Championships at the Bolton Arena, up from 430 at the 2022 event.
McErlean believes it was the accessible and friendly community of the sport that will keep a paddle in his hand.
“It was a smaller court and that drew me into it, it was just good fun and I fell into it by luck.
“It’s a great way to keep fit and still easy to move around on the courts, it’s been great.”
McErlean was paralysed after being involved in a car crash in his late teens. Aged 19 and just a year after joining the army, he was seriously injured as the car he was in turned over.
*2023 English Nationals took place between October 26-29. This year’s English Nationals were sponsored by Skechers, Franklin, Scan and UK Pickleball Shop.
Visit https://www.pickleballengland.org/ to find out more.