T54 multi-distance specialist Danny Sidbury (coach: Christine Parsloe; club: Sutton & District) hopes that he can continue to see his times getting quicker and quicker as his career progresses.
2019 proved to be a good year for the Sutton & District man, achieving personal best times in all of his distances from the 100m through to the half marathon.
In amongst his performances, Sidbury starred on the roads of the capital as he was crowned Vitality Westminster Mile and Vitality 10000 winner across the May bank holiday weekend.
A good block of winter training has kicked off his year in the perfect fashion and he wants to make sure if and when the opportunity arises in 2020 to get back on the track, he lays down some good markers to continue his progression.
He said: “2019 went really well and made for a good stepping stone into 2020 and most of the races that I did went well, not only in terms of placing but in terms of times as well. Hopefully if there are any races left this year, hopefully I can replicate what I managed to do last year.
“At the minute, I’m taking things daily as everyone else is and not trying to think too far ahead because it’s all so uncertain.
“It’s a very encouraging sign, the training has been working and the things we needed to work on, we made improvements in. We’re not there yet and there’s still more work to be done but every season that’s something that I always aim for, to PB in all my distances.
“Sometimes we’re successful like last year, 2018 we PB’d in most except the 100m and 200m but that’s always what I aim for, that’s what I would class as a successful season.”
Competing in one of the fiercest classes on the Paralympic circuit has given Sidbury a chance to test himself against some of the best athletes in the world in recent years, including racing against David Weir (Jenny Archer; Weir Archer Academy) and Marcel Hug at the 2018 London Marathon, to Richard Chiassaro (Jenni Banks; Harlow AC) and Dillon Labrooy (Jenny Archer; Weir Archer Academy) at the Müller Anniversary Games.
Having the opportunity to race against some of the biggest names on the international circuit is something Sidbury hopes he will be able to continue to do as he progresses on his journey towards the top of the sport.
“What’s really good about the T54 classification is that it is the most competitive classification in Paralympic circles, and it means there’s lots of good competition and the racing is really exciting and high-quality.
“It’s always nice to be able to race against those high-calibre athletes and it’s a very good experience for me to do that. The more opportunities you get to race them, the more that you know you’re doing something right.
“Whether you beat them or not it’s still early days for someone like me but it’s always encouraging to race them. You may or may not win but regardless there’s always positives to come out of a race like that. Even if you come stone dead last, it shows to you the amount of work that there needs to be in order to get to that level,” he assessed.
After 11 years living out in Spain, Sidbury returned to the UK and has showcased his potential each year since returning to the sport on a competitive basis back in 2014.
Last year, his performances earned him a spot on the British Athletics Paralympic Futures Academy Programme, which identifies competitors that have the realistic potential to win medals at future World &European Championships, and Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Sidbury credits his excellent form down to working with coach Christine Parsloe, who has been coaching him since he took up the sport and feels their relationship is strengthening and hopes to see further improvements in 2020 and beyond.
“It’s definitely a good position to be in and hopefully it’s a steppingstone for better things to come. Clearly someone noticed my performances in 2019 and felt they were worthy of a place in the Academy and that is definitely one of the most encouraging things for sure.
“Myself and Christine have a very good coach-athlete relationship, she’s very hands on deck and her knowledge on the sport is incredible. For someone who’s not in a wheelchair and has never even pushed a race chair ever, she knows things that boggle the mind.
“She’s been doing this for so long that she has built up such a strong bank of knowledge and it’s great to have a coach you can be open with and have a one-on-one approach to training. She breaks things down and makes sure you get the most out of your training to become a better athlete and performer.
“You can only do that if you have a good coach and luckily, I feel I have that. She knows what I need to work on and to understand the skillset that it takes and for me to implement that, it’s what makes the pair of us so successful. We understand each other and it’s very important to get on with your coach to get the most out of your performances,” he added.