Shaw looking for more sporting success for Grimsby

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Duran Duran, Black Sabbath and a mechanical bull: The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games had it all
Duran Duran, Black Sabbath and a mechanical bull: The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games had it all

Para athlete Zac Shaw is looking to bring more sporting success to Grimsby when he competes in his second Commonwealth Games in Birmingham later this summer.

The 26-year-old sprinter competes in the T12/T13 100m for visually impaired athletes and heads into the meeting at Alexander Stadium in fine form, having won five of his races so far this year.

Shaw is also a big fan of Grimsby Town, who in June returned to the Football League at the first attempt after the most dramatic play-off campaign imaginable.

The Mariners edged out Solihull Moors 2-1 in the final at the London Stadium to spark jubilant scenes, and Shaw is hoping he can follow in their footsteps this summer.

“I was actually competing in Paris that weekend – I wanted to go to the game, but I obviously couldn’t, so I was a bit gutted about that,” said Shaw, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

“I watched it on BT Sport and it was incredible, so it was really good for the football team and hopefully I can do the same as well.”

Shaw was inspired to get into athletics by an event that took place at the same venue as where his football team found glory: the London 2012 Paralympics.

He has had Stargardt disease since he was nine, but he was a relative latecomer to the sport aged 18.

“I was 16 when that [London 2012 Paralympics] happened and it was such a crazy experience because at the time, being visually impaired and the way the sport is marketed with wheelchairs and amputees, I didn’t really appreciate what I had was a disability,” Shaw said.

“When I watched London 2012 and I realised it was something I could do, they said at the time ‘Inspire a Generation,’ and I can say first-hand it did.

“Then I was lucky enough to go in 2017 and compete in the World Championships there, so I think British Athletics and sport in general in Britain and England do a good job in promoting para-sport.

“They give us the platform to show what athletes with disabilities can do, so it’s nice that within the Commonwealths it’s included in the main programme and I’m sure the crowd in England will do us proud.”

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Shaw is looking for medal success.

Shaw competed for Team England at the Gold Coast in the 2018 Games, but by his own admission did not perform to his potential and was unable to qualify for the final.

Since he started being coached by former sprinter Leon Baptiste, Shaw’s fortunes have picked up, with him winning bronze in the 100m and silver in the 4x100m at last year’s European Championships.

“I’ve equalled my PB, I’ve ran faster than my PB wind-assisted in the British Champs, indoors and outdoors, so I’ve done really well,” Shaw said.

“But I’m staying grounded and when you finish your career, you don’t get remembered for what your PB is.

“It’s all about what you do at the major championships, so I’d really like to go to Birmingham and come home with a medal.”

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