Kieran Jones admits he’s thrilled to be back competing as an elite shot putter – and so are his neighbours.
The 19-year-old para athlete has a summer of athletics meetings to look forward to again, while those living near his Anglesey home no longer have to worry about the state of his garden fence.
Kieran – who has also represented Wales at wheelchair basketball – spent much of lockdown training in his back garden, hurling an iron ball into a makeshift sandpit built near the fence.
“It was okay, but there were a couple of problems,” says the sports coaching student at Coleg Menai in Bangor.
“The concrete slabs started to crack when the shot landed, even though we had put down gymnastic mats to cushion them.
“Then, the sand we laid down worked better, but in the end when I hit the markers the sand started to push against the fence and it began to bow outwards into the lane behind.”
Worried onlookers were relieved when Kieran was eventually able to resume training back in the gym and at the track as restrictions on athletes started to be lifted.
The F34 class athlete was enjoying rapid progress as one the country’s most promising and multi-talented para athletes when lockdown hit in spring of last year.
Keiran had already become a British champion at the Activity Alliance National Junior Athletics Championships in 2019 and was due to attend a warm-weather training camp in Portugal with Disability Sport Wales.
“I was so excited about going, so lockdown was hard to take. It was a great opportunity for me as a person and an athlete and so it really knocked me back.
“Trying to stay focused was really difficult, but then the whole world came to a stop and it really hit me. To have a year of not doing anything has been really difficult.
“This has probably been the worst time I’ve gone through since I went from walking to being in a wheelchair.
“Not being able to do the things I loved was awful. My closest friends are in sport as well, so not seeing them was also very hard.
“But I’m lucky I’ve got a great family around me. They saw me dip, but they would always bring me up.”