Discus champion Dan Greaves says the prospect of becoming the first Briton to win a medal at six successive Paralympic Games in athletics is fuelling his motivation for Tokyo.
Greaves shares the current record of five with wheelchair racer Tanni Grey-Thompson, having stood on the podium in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio.
The 38-year-old, who was named in Great Britain’s squad on Wednesday, may well have missed the Games through injury had they not been pushed back a year and is determined to seize his shot at making history.
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“Had you told me back in Sydney in 2000 when I was 18 that I’d go on to be competing 21 years later at my sixth Paralympics, I probably would have laughed in your face,” he told the PA news agency.
“To set a record – if I could come away with a medal – would be absolutely fantastic and it’s those kind of things that motivate me.
“It’s huge motivation and when I saw it, it really gave me a lift. We all strive for the bling around the neck and to get onto the podium.”
Greaves initially ruled himself out of competing in Japan in the immediate aftermath of winning bronze at Rio 2016.
A personal best and European record of 63.01m in 2018 helped convince him to reverse that hasty announcement, before the emergence of a painful hip problem the following year almost took the decision out of his hands.
He has subsequently altered his approach to the sport in order to protect his physical health, while he believes a change of coach has been the catalyst for reaching peak condition from a technical perspective.
“My hips play a huge part in my throw and I couldn’t do that for a good six, seven months,” said Greaves, whose sole Paralympic gold to date came in 2004 in Athens.
“In hindsight it’s a good thing the Paralympics got pushed back because I only started throwing in January 2020 and I think it would have been too soon to put in a performance that I know I’m worthy of.
“We’ve had to really look at my posture and been doing lots of yoga. Sometimes you have to calm things down and admit I’m 38, I can’t do something I was doing when I was 25, 26.
“It has actually changed my outlook on how to perform. It’s just not sustainable and I want to be able to play with my kids in the future and go to the football and not have a bad back or a bad hip.”
On switching coaches to fellow British thrower Zane Duquemin, he added: “I’ve been in the sport for 21 years and I didn’t think I could learn much more about discus but this past 18 months I’ve been with him I’ve learnt loads more and feel like I’m probably the best technically I’ve ever been.”