By Tom Masters
Veteran shooter Ryan Cockbill remains in search of one elusive thing: a Paralympic medal.
Cockbill has attended three games already, including a debut at London 2012 where he reached the final, but the Birmingham-born shooter has yet to come away with any silverware.
Now a double European medallist and a world bronze medallist, the 32-year-old now feels he is ready to head to Paris and complete the set.
Cockbill said: “Things have been going really well over the last year or so and I am in good shape and the ultimate goal for me is to go and get a Paralympic medal. To complete the collection would be great.
“It was really good to get that World Championship bronze and with every international competition I went to, I came back with a medal, so all the have put in his paid off.
“It is all down to keeping to my shooting process and handling my nerves and it has paid off really well.”
Cockbill discovered shooting at the age of 17 when recovering from a spinal injury he suffered at a party to celebrate GCSE exams, resulting in him being paralyzed from the waist down.
He got involved in sport at Stoke Mandeville hospital, where he was given the opportunity to get involved in both disability shooting and wheelchair rugby.
Cockbill is certainly reaping the rewards of his hard work now, but it has not all been plain sailing along the way, missing out on the 2014 World Championships after the highs of London 2012.
“There was a time when I was a little bit out of form in 2014 but from that I bounced back stronger really and I knew I needed to perform better,” Cockbill added.
“I think then moving forward from that, you experience the low points, which always means you can appreciate the good times and the medals that you win, because to me, the amount of effort you put in, you kind of get out of it, so if I put everything in, I know I am going to get back what I want.”
Now, Cockbill has plenty of experience under his belt, and when asked what advice he would give to his younger self, his answer is simple: enjoy it.
“Enjoy every moment, everything you do, even if it is just the small things,” he said.
“Enjoy yourself and enjoy what you are doing, because at the end of the day, if you get to the end of it and thought, I did not really enjoy that, there was not much point in doing it.
“Every time I am on the range, whether that be the training range or the competition range, I am enjoying the time when I am out there so it is great to be in that position.”
Cockbill is one of over 1,000 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing him to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering medical support – this is vital for his pathway to the Paris 2024 Games.
With the Paris 2024 Paralympics only one year away, the Games are set to inspire people and communities all across the country. Cockbill hopes that by sharing his story it will give others motivation to get involved into sport.
Cockbill has been fortunate to benefit from funding from The National Lottery, helping him travel the world and compete to chase his sporting dreams.
He added: “The National Lottery funding means I could focus on training regularly and having the right equipment, getting out and about to national competitions and international competitions without having to worry, or having an impact on the sport, so I am extremely grateful to National Lottery players.”
National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen