Best of British: Paul Blake800m T36 champion on his new sprint challenge at London 2017. 20 Jun 2017
“I’m relishing it because it’s relatively new to me still it’s just a completely different mindset. It’s all power and I find it really exciting."
Two years ago at the 2015 World Championships, Paul Blake safely held on to his 800m T36 title. When it came to middle-distance running, here was a man to be reckoned with.
This year however, Blake has set himself a new challenge.
The 27-year-old will line up in the 100m and 200m as well as the 400m T36 at July’s World Para Athletics Championships as he looks to sprint his way to the top of the podium.
“I’m relishing it – because it’s relatively new to me still it’s just a completely different mindset. It’s all power and I find it really exciting,” admitted Blake, who made his international debut at the 2011 World Championships, winning 400m gold as well as 800m and 1,500m T36 silver.
While he’s no stranger to racing over one lap – Blake won 400m T36 gold at last year’s Paralympic Games – his experience in the shorter sprints is limited.
“It’s going to be interesting as I’ve only done a few 100m and 200m, but not at a major championship,” he added.
“I am enjoying it a lot more though; it’s so much easier to train for, just because of the distance you cover in training - it feels easier on my body.
“I’m flying in training but I just need to replicate it in the competitions. I’m really confident going in to the championships though - it’s just having to do it on the day like everybody else.”
In last year’s 800m T36 at the Paralympic Games, Blake came up against Australian James Turner. The outcome was not how he had hoped, or expected; Turner stormed round the track to take the gold, wiping out the previous world record in the process and leaving the Brit with a silver medal.
“It was an amazing run, and completely took me by surprise,” acknowledged Blake.
The pair will line up again in London, this time in the 200m and 400m T36. But there are other big names to look out for now too.
Malaysia’s Mohamad Mohamad Puzi is the reigning world and Paralympic 100m T36 champion; then there’s Ukraine’s former Paralympic champion Roman Pavlyk, not to mention fellow Briton Graeme Ballard, a silver medallist at London 2012.
But Blake remains upbeat and confident - and prefers not to think about who he will have to beat.
“There is nothing more I can do than race my own race,” he explained. “I really don’t care about any of the other athletes. They are all amazing in their own right but I’m just focussed on how I run on the day.
“I definitely feel as though I have a lot more to give and the hunger is still there. It would be really nice to set personal bests in all three of my events and the way training is going I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t.”
Finishing on the podium holds extra resonance for Blake this year. Not only will he compete in front of a home crowd, but the Bristol-based man is considering hanging up his spikes for good.
“It’s a possibility,” admitted Blake, who only began running as a teenager in Dorchester because ‘It was fun, I just did it to keep fit and I enjoyed it because everybody else was doing it.’
“I’m still ‘umming and ahhing’ about retiring but I’m 80 per cent sure that I’m going to hang up my spikes and venture in to something else.”
London 2017 could well be his final farewell to the track – but what better way to sign off than with success on home soil.
“From what I can remember of 2012, to experience that roar in each section of the crowd when I go round will be amazing. To be back at possibly my last World Championships and to do it in London is going to be incredible.”