Paralympic and world champion Paul Blake (coach: Rob Ellchuk; club: Dorchester) has announced his retirement from athletics.
Blake has been an ever-present figurehead in British squads since 2011 where he won three medals at the world championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, including the T36 400m title.
His crowning glory came at the Rio Paralympic Games, when during the morning session on day nine, Blake produced one of the finest races of his career from the outside lane to secure the gold medal over the 400m and join an illustrious list of Paralympic champions. It was also Paralympic GB’s 50th gold medal of those Games, and a key milestone for the team in Brazil.
The Dorchester athlete won three further Paralympic medals during his career; the 800m silver in 2016 following silver and bronze in the 400m and 800m respectively on home turf at London 2012.
Throughout Blake’s career, he showed he was a strong championship performer, winning eight world medals, three of them of the gold variety – his last coming at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championship in Dubai where he sealed the T36 800m title.
With four additional European medals under his belt, Blake ends ten sensational years in the sport with a mighty medal haul.
Following his announcement, Blake reflected on his career by saying:
“It’s been a whirlwind. When I started out in 2009, I didn’t think I’d achieve what I have in the sport. To make my first world championships in 2011 was overwhelming. I couldn’t believe it and to come out of that with three medals including gold in the 400m was incredible. I’ve had an amazing time during my career. There have been plenty of ups and downs, but I can truly say I’ve enjoyed every step of the way.
“Winning Paralympic gold in Rio was the highlight of my career. Every para athlete wants to win a gold medal at the Paralympic Games. I’m pleased that I ran the race properly and came away with the win. It was also Paralympic GB’s 50th gold medal of the Games as well so it was a very special moment.
“My other career highlight was probably the world championship in 2013 when I beat Artem Arefyev to the gold in the 800m. It was a cracking race and a big moment in my career. The Paralympic Games in London was obviously another great experience, winning two medals.”
He added special thanks to his coach Rob Ellchuk and all those who have supported him during his athletics career.
“What I’ve achieved in the sport wouldn’t have been possible without the support of a lot of people along the way. Rob (Ellchuk) has done the world of good for me. I wouldn’t have been half the athlete without him. He knew everything about me as an athlete and it takes a special guy to recognise that. He was the perfect coach. He made training fun and never takes anything too seriously. He’s very good at saying the right thing to ease my mind, and he did the same for everyone in our training group.”
Paula Dunn, Para Athletics Head Coach at British Athletics, said:
“Paul has enjoyed an incredible career in the sport over the last 10 years and has been a consistent performer on the international stage for such a long period. He’s won everything there is to win in the sport and I’ll always remember his celebration after winning his first Paralympic title in Rio. It was a great moment for him, his family and friends, and also his coach Rob Ellchuk, who he’s shared those experiences with along the way – it has been a fantastic athlete-coach partnership over the last decade.
“Paul will start this next chapter in his life knowing he’s worked incredibly hard to achieve success in the sport and he should be very proud of his achievements, I know I am proud as Head Coach. He will leave an incredible legacy in para athletics in the UK and all at British Athletics wish him the best for the future.”