The last time rowing took place at the Paralympics, Ben Pritchard was lying in a hospital bed, wondering how he was going to rebuild his life.
The Welsh para rower suffered a life-changing cycling accident in 2016 at the very time the best disabled athletes on the planet had gathered to compete in Rio de Janeiro.
Five years on and Pritchard, from Ammanford will be among the elite rowers himself – and a medal contender - when the Paralympic Games begins in Tokyo on August 24.
The 29-year-old, a European silver medallist, will be among the favourites in the PR1 men’s single sculls, the heats for which start on Friday, August 27.
Yet five years ago, he was a patient at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, following an accident that had left him paralysed from the waist down.
“Five years ago, I was lying in a hospital bed and now I’m getting ready to compete in Tokyo. It’s such an amazing feeling, I can hardly put it into words,” he says.
“The Paralympics just happened to be going on the summer I was in the place that had been the birthplace of the event.
“I hadn’t paid much attention to the Games before then. I didn’t even know what Paralympic rowing was, never mind how you got into it.
“But rowing then became part of my re-habbing at Stoke Mandeville. I didn’t really like it at first. It was just hard work and painful.
“But I grew to enjoy it and with the help of many people I realised here was an opportunity to compete again as a sportsman.
“Every kid dreams of being an Olympian or Paralympian, given their circumstances. Later in my life I had an accident and that opened up the door for me to the Paralympics.
“When I took up rowing, I thought that Paris in 2024 was a realistic aim. I had to learn about a new life in a wheelchair and also learn about a new sport.
“I thought it would take longer than four years to get to the pinnacle of the sport. But somehow, with good coaching and a great set-up, I’ve managed it.”