Double Paralympic gold medallist Aled Davies has his sights firmly set on achieving another medal in Tokyo 2020, but also has his sights set elsewhere.
After competing at the British Indoor Championships in Birmingham in February, the F42 shot putter has serious ambitions to consistently test himself against the best able-bodied athletes in the sport.
Davies finished sixth at the Championships out of a field of eight athletes, recording a lifetime best of 15.42m in the process.
Producing those sorts of performances on such a big stage fills him with even more confidence that he can show what he can do against some of the best able-bodied throwers.
Speaking directly after the event, he said: “It was definitely very different and there were a lot of new emotions for me. I’m normally so confident and cocky, let’s say, going into major championships because I’m usually the one to beat and I have massive self-belief.
“But this time I was really nervous and excited. I had no pressure on me and it was all fun, but at the same time I saw this as a huge opportunity to show people what I can do.
“I knew I was in good nick and could throw a long way, so I was hoping to do justice to my coach and myself. A lot of hard work went into it and I didn’t want to let people down.”
Davies usually competes with a 6kg implement in para athletics competitions, but in Birmingham he was throwing the 7.26kg shot.
Heading into the Championships, he had to increase his training significantly but feels the extra work he put in will serve him better in the long run.
“I worked very hard for that alongside my coach. We’ve had to change a lot of things – even down to the equipment. I’ve got a new throwing base which can take a lot more force through it and I’ve had to put on nearly four kilos.
“It has been a massive step-up in training in terms of the volume we’ve been doing. Hopefully though I can give everyone a glimpse of what I can do and hopefully it’s the start of something special over the next few years.”
For Davies, his main goal will be the prospect of taking another gold medal at this summer’s World Para Athletics European Championships in Berlin, Germany.
Further on the horizon is Tokyo 2020, but he has his sights set on the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and the chance to once again wear the Welsh vest, as he did in Glasgow in 2014.
It is a challenge that is spurring him on in the long-term, to be the next to step into the circle and represent his home nation – it’s an aspiration he has talked about recently.
Using the 6kg shot, he produced a world record breaking throw of 17.52m in London at the World Para Athletics Championships last summer, which has added even more fuel to the fire for him and he wants to be able to build on what he has already learnt to produce even better performances and move the sport forward as a whole.
“Last year was a pretty special year. After winning in Rio I wanted to perform differently. I wanted to show everyone what I could do.
“It also reignited a bit of fire in me to think, ‘I want to bring out the big throws, I want to be smashing the world record, I want to be pushing the event on, I want to be catching up the able-bodied guys.”