This week’s ‘Best and Worst Moments’ comes from Great Britain’s world discus and shot put F42 champion Aled Davies.
The Welshman sent out an early warning to his 2016 Paralympic rivals when he smashed his own shot put world record at the British Indoor Championships last weekend (Sunday 28 February), throwing 16.14m.
My best moment
For the time being - and I think it will be hard to beat - winning the discus F42 gold at London 2012 was the moment I will cherish forever. I really do hope that I have another moment that is better than that.
The competition itself I didn’t really worry about until the last round - I went in there and had nothing to lose. The Iranian Mehrdad Karam Zadeh had won silver in Beijing and Athens - the pressure was on him to win. So when he opened up with a massive lifetime best in the first round that set the standard. I matched it with one of my best throws of all time.
It wasn’t until the last round that I thought, ‘Right, I’m guaranteed at least a bronze here, because there’s only three of us left.’ Then it was ‘Okay, now it’s a silver,’ then it was ‘Oh my God, I can win gold here, there’s only one guy that can take it away from me.’
That moment will stay with me forever. I felt relief and disbelief - we were in a stadium of 80,000 people and the whole place erupted. I did it on the big stage; all the countless hours that my family had given up driving me to training, the money they’d invested in me to make sure that dream of winning London became a reality - it was absolutely phenomenal.
My worst moment
It was the 2014 Commonwealth Games - I was going in there against one of my good old buddies (F44 thrower) Dan Greaves and I genuinely didn’t think I could lose.
Technically my throw broke down badly. It kind of didn’t go to plan for the first time, which was strange for me but a massive learning curve. I wouldn’t say I lose sleep over it but it’s probably not one of my highlights. I learned so much from it, now I can look back and I’m glad it happened.
I went in to 2014 when I hadn’t lost a competition in almost two years. I think it was a bit disrespectful of me to underestimate Dan - one of the greatest Paralympic throwers of all time. To think that I could just take him down on the big stage was a bit naïve.
I threw as far as I could and I wasn’t the best athlete on the day, but I knew in the back of my mind that I could have won. I was so grateful that I lost because it gave me the kind of kick in the behind that I needed to try and make some drastic changes.
That’s when I had to weigh up my options and make the decision to leave the coach that I’d been with for ten years, someone who had won me everything. I have so much respect and admiration for him but I didn’t feel like the student in our relationship anymore, and that’s what I wanted - to feel like I was still learning. I didn’t want to be sitting there, 10 years down the line, wondering ‘What if’.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.