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Aled Davies – Embracing responsibility in more ways than one

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Welsh Para sport legend Aled Davies has already won gold at two Paralympic Games so you would be forgiven for thinking he has experienced it all.

But this time around his preparation has been rather different due to the disruption of the pandemic. 

Davies is once again aiming for another medal, this time in the F63 shot put, which begins on September 4 in Tokyo. 

The 30-year-old says dealing with the repercussions of uncertainty, imposed restrictions and the subsequent delay to the Games proved to be a challenge for him. 

But looking back at what he’s achieved in the sport so far helped to get him back on track. 

Aled sion Davies lifting weights in back yard

 

“It’s been really tough to motivate myself and up until lockdown it was really hard,” explains Davies, from his base in Japan. 

“When Tokyo got postponed and the whole Covid situation happened, it gave me an extra year and it forced me to have that break away from the sport and have that time with my family.

"But it also put a lot of things into perspective. I’ve got a dream job, I really have.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do and I feel like I’ve still got a lot to give. I’ve still got records to break and I can still do a lot more damage.

“I love this sport. I love competing, going around the world, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. As long as I’m healthy and in good shape I’ll always do my best to fight for medals.”

The Bridgend-born athlete said the uncertainty over whether or not the Games were going to go ahead last year caused a lot of problems with regards to his training. 

“It was a nightmare,” says Davies. 

“When we went in lockdown, initially, Tokyo was still going ahead and my instant thought was, ‘how do I prepare to compete for a gold medal in a few months’ time in my back garden?’

“Luckily, I could convert the garage into a gym and I built a throwing circle and put a bit of steel with netting between my apple and pear tree so I was throwing into that.

“We’d only moved into the house about a month or so before lockdown so we didn’t get a chance to meet people in the area. Their first sight of me was me spinning around and screaming in the garden, throwing stuff. 

“It was a very different experience, but at the same time it was character-building and having to adapt to that challenge, I absolutely loved it really. 

“It taught me to be self-sufficient so if anything happens now, another lockdown or something, then I have all I need in my garden.”

One positive that did come out of lockdown for Davies, was he could spend more valuable time with his then recently-born daughter. 

“Six weeks before the 2019 World Champs, I became a dad and that was a very special moment. 

“The amount of time I would have been way prepping for 2020, I would have missed some really important parts of her growing up so lockdown gave me that time I never would have had. 

“I wish I could spend every day with her.

“She is turning two a week after I get back which is crazy to think, the way those two years have gone. It has changed my life, given me the structure I never knew I needed. 

“The time management, all those things where you have to be organised for the little one and put them first.

“I’m very lucky and, of course, I’ve got an incredible fiancé as well.

“It’s a shame they can’t be out here but I think my daughter would have been just too young to understand. 

“Paris is only three years away and she’ll be five by then and will know what’s going on. 

“Let’s hope by then it’s a normal Games.” 

Davies is now a household name in British sport and Team GB athletics have given him the honour of being appointed co-captain for the Games. 

“I’ve been selected as captain for the team and I’ve kind of embraced that role and offered my support, whether it is over Zoom or whatever, to the team while concentrating on my own training.

“I was overwhelmed. 

“It has always been a dream of mine to captain any sort of team, but to captain the GB team going into the Paralympic Games and to be voted for by your teammates is really humbling. 

“I am honoured just to be part of this Para athletics team, in my opinion it’s the greatest Para athletics team in the world.

“We’ve got some absolute world-beaters, some athletes who have been around for a while, who have dominated, but we’ve also lots of hungry youngsters who have been inspired by some of us over the years and they are coming through to make their own stamp.

“It’s exciting to see, but it is a turn of the tide. I’ve gone from being one of the young ones to now being one of those others look up to, so it’s a new role.”

On a personal note, Davies is feeling confident ahead of the Games and says he couldn’t be in better shape to defend his title.

“I’m feeling good. I competed in Charnwood a week last Wednesday and I extended my world lead out to 16.45m. 

“I really wanted to put a metre between me and the world No.2, just to set a marker before I came to these Games. 

“I’m in the shape of my life. I’m excited now and can’t wait to get in there. Whatever the outcome, I’m ready.” 

Whilst winning medals is Davies’s aim, he also takes pride from how the Paralympics and disability sport helps people to come to terms with their disabilities. 

“I consider myself lucky to have the best job in the world and if I can inspire people with a disability to get into sport and kind of change perception it’s job done.

“I think back to when I was younger and I didn’t wear a pair of shorts until I was about 15 or something silly like that as I never wanted to show my disability.

“I was kind of ashamed of it but that kind of attitude has gone out the window now. It’s beautiful to see, to be honest.”

Davies has achieved so much in his career to date and who would bet against him winning yet another Paralympic medal nine years after his first. 

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