By Milly McEvoy
Mark Swan has already reached the summit of the powerlifting world – and insists he is now firmly focused on staying there.
Defying an injured elbow, Swan broke an eight-year-old record to be crowned European champion in September.
The Seaham native lifted 200kg to claim the men’s 65kg class crown in Tblisi and now sits as the world no.1, a position he will be working hard to hold onto heading to the Paris Paralympics in 2024.
“Coming away from Europeans, setting a new European record and lifting more than what was lifted in Tokyo to win the Paralympic gold medal in my weight group, it’s given me this drive,” the 21-year-old said.
“It's given me this extra drive that, ‘okay, we're at the top right now but anything could happen, anything could change’.
“At the minute, we've just got to not slack off, we've just got to not enjoy being at the top, we've got to just keep going and try and not let it get to my head too much and just focus on getting stronger and stronger for Paris 2024.
“That's a big goal for me to go to Paris and get a gold medal.“
Swan will hope to add a world crown to his European title at the 2023 World Championships in June next year.
SportsAid is delighted to reveal the 🔟 talented young athletes on the shortlist for the One-to-Watch Award 2022 🏆
The annual award shines a spotlight on the incredible achievements of Britain’s brightest sporting prospects 👏
▶️ https://t.co/tpJfiUVWAr #CelebrateTheNext pic.twitter.com/gvwJJ8fCvn
— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) November 1, 2022
The keen fisherman has a love of the big stage having taken silver in front of a home crowd at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this August.
He added: “I think the home crowd is probably the biggest crowd we've ever had at the Commonwealth Games for us para powerlifters.
“The majority of people are cheering for you, it is good and to walk out onto the platform and to hear the roar get louder.
“Having my family there as well and us lot from the north east, we have a mouth, we're very loud, I was able to hear them.
“It spurred me on because I find with an audience I work better and it pushed me on to lift a big PB and come away with a silver medal.”
Swan’s superb 2022 has been rewarded with nomination for SportsAid’s annual One-to-Watch Award, shortlisted in the top 10 from a raft of 1,000 young athletes supported by the charity across 60 different sports.
The award was launched in 2006 to shine a spotlight on the outstanding achievements of Britain’s brightest young prospects, with Tom Daley, Hollie Arnold, Courtney Tulloch, Amber Hill, Morgan Lake and Alex Yee among the former winners.
For Swan, winning the award would be recognition of the hard work of his whole family, which includes six brothers and five sisters.
“Since I started this journey, my older brothers and my dad, especially, they've been there with me, they've been there supporting me the whole time,” Swan, who received his SportsAid support through the Backing The Best programme this year, said.
“So not just for me to win that award, but for my family to watch me win that award, would be amazing.”
The winner of SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award will be revealed at the charity’s Celebrate the Next event, supported by Royal Bank of Canada, in London on Thursday 17 November. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk for further information.