Welsh Paralympian Aled Davies boasts several sporting accolades to his name but one still evades his clutches – a Commonwealth Games gold medal.
The F42 shot put and discus thrower will head to the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games on the hunt for the ever-familiar taste of victory as the current world record holder, three-time Paralympic champion and nine-time world champion.
But with the disappointment of his Commonwealth silver medal at the Glasgow 2014 Games, Davies is ready to go the distance this summer.
The Bridgend star is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme – allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
“The Commonwealth Games is a special one for me,” said Davies, whose disciplines weren’t included in the 2018 Games in Australia.
“I’m a patriotic Welshman and here in Wales, we’re a very close community-based country and everyone gets behind everyone and they really do embrace us and are proud of our heritage as well.
“I’ve got unfinished business after 2014. I wasn’t the best version of myself at that Games and it cost me the gold medal and I think what hurt even more, being a Welshman was that I lost to my rival from England.
“Going back now this year, it’s been eight years in the making.
“Everyone’s expecting me to do what I do best but at the same time, everyone’s alluding to the fact that this is the only title I haven’t won yet.
“I’ve left no stone unturned so I’m going into break the world record.”
This summer, Team Wales, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise over 200 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Davies is looking for medal success.
Davies began his sporting adventures in the pool and even went so far as to compete for his nation at the European Junior Championships in butterfly.
Although the sport was not necessarily for him, the introduction into para sport was a fundamental point in his career.
He said: “At the time I didn’t know anything about para-sport. My mum actually found an advertisement in the paper and asked me to go along to my local disability swimming club.
“But I never saw myself as disabled, being 14, 15-years-old, that was something I did not want to be associated with.
“I remember going to the pool side and seeing kids of mixed-disabilities, some with disabilities similar to me and I had never seen that before.
“And instead of being behind everyone I was beating them and being on par so all of a sudden I was given a level playing field.”
With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Davies hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.
Davies went on to try several different sports before he found his calling on the field and before he knew it, he was British world champion in discus.
The Birmingham Commonwealth Games are a multi-sport event for both disabled and able-bodied athletes and Davies has praised its inclusive nature in championing opportunities for all.
He said: “I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase para sport to a whole new audience and showcase all these disabilities and how impressive things are.
“Take away disability and at the end of the day, people want to see live sport and that’s what this event will be.
“For athletes with disabilities or future para-athletes I think it’s important for them to see that as well, and seeing that situation and seeing how things should be now.
“Times are changing and there’s no reason to be divided. At the end of the day we’re all just trying to be the best version of ourselves as professional athletes.”
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