“It was a great year and both competitions played their part in preparing myself to Rio 2016.”
Brazil’s 10-time Paralympic champion Daniel Dias enjoyed another vintage year in 2015, winning seven world titles and eight golds at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
His World Championships haul in Glasgow, Great Britain, brought his overall gold medal count to 24 in a career spanning nearly a decade, and meant he left as the most decorated athlete. At Toronto 2015, he did the same.
Dias’ performances just one year away from his home Paralympic Games at Rio 2016 enter at No. 6 in the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2015.
“It was a great year and both competitions played their part in preparing myself to Rio 2016,” Dias said. “Most of the athletes who were there I believe will be in the Paralympics as well.”
Getting one (or 15) over his opponents was obviously a massive boost for Dias who, as a multiple Paralympic and world champion already, will be the man to chase in Rio next year. Add in the passionate home crowd, and the Campinas-native will be even harder to stop.
“I have no doubts that competing at home will be different emotionally and having the crowd cheering for me will be essential,” he said. “I believe we can end up in the top five overall, as is planned by CPB [Brazilian Paralympic Committee]. At swimming we'll look for being in the top five also.”
Dias has also had a great year in his personal life, welcoming his second child in the form of his son Danielzinho. The 27-year-old is understandably excited and with his son’s birth comes greater motivation to do well.
“It's very exciting. I'm thankful to God for giving me the privilege of being a father,” he said.
Of course Paralympic Games bring a different pressure to World and regional Championships and even a competitor of Dias’s ability might not have it all his own way.
Rising British swimmer Andrew Mullen has established himself as one of the best in Europe and was not far behind Dias in Glasgow.
But Dias is undoubtedly one of the poster boys for Rio 2016 and while that can bring its own extra level of pressure, London 2012 showed that many of the best home competitors were able to harness that to their benefit.
It would be hard to bet against Dias adding to his medal haul. While his legacy as one of the greatest Paralympic athletes in history is already secured, Rio 2016 could see him reach whole new levels.
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2015, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.