Winning gold medals is nothing new for Daniel Dias, but the Brazilian Paralympic swimming legend will have fresh inspiration at the World Para Swimming Allianz Championships: his baby daughter.
The 14-time Paralympic Games podium topper and 30-time world champion became a father for the third time with the birth of his first daughter, Hadassa, in April.
While some athletes might lack motivation after such sustained success – and many parents would be simply exhausted by bringing up a hat-trick of kids – Dias remains resolutely determined to improve.
“I believe that there is a better version of ourselves that we can search for every day and this is what continues to motivate me,” said Dias.
“Having a new reason to smile motivates me, being an example to my children motivates me, seeing the athletes at the Daniel Dias Institute growing and developing motivates me. I still have lots of motivation!”
The 31-year-old Dias was already a father to two boys – five-year-old Asaph, and Daniel, who is three – before the arrival of Hadassa four months ago.
“It was so special,” he said. “Even though I already had two sons, it was so emotional. A daughter now! I am discovering and learning all the time. It’s great to be involved in this phase of her life.
“Being a father has changed me. It’s made me much more mature, because of the responsibilities. It’s a great honour and blessing.”
Dias has just competed at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games in Peru where he took his personal medal tally to 33 Parapan medals, all of them gold. Now is time to return to London, a special place for him.
The Brazilian won six golds at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and returning to the venue for this year’s worlds will provide him with an extra shot of adrenalin to compete.
“For sure, it will bring back happy emotions and my heart will beat faster. I had unforgettable experiences there and I will embrace this good energy as a positive force in my emotional preparation. I have no doubt that it will help.”
After London, Dias and his team will turn their focus to next year’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which will be his fourth edition of the event.
As always, he will be among the medal favourites and star attractions in the pool.
“I want to be the best version of myself in Tokyo, to deliver my best in each event,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I visited the city and was thrilled by it – by the culture, the arenas and everything else.
We are preparing for a great sporting moment there.”
Another large medal haul in Japan would cement his place in the pantheon of swimming greats, but Dias – a three-time winner of the Laureus Award for sportsperson of the year with a disability – says he gets the most satisfaction out of other types of achievement.
“I have had lots of achievements, lots of medals, records, trophies, lots of praise, but I find that the biggest honour is to be an example for someone,” he said.
“Inspiring someone is priceless. Motivating someone, including someone with a disability, knocking down prejudices, helping a young athlete – these are tasks just as difficult as competing, and hugely gratifying for me.”
Full coverage of London 2019, including live results, can be found on the official website.