Paralympics 2012: 'Gold medal is just the start,' says Aled Davies

Eight years after he first dreamed of what it would be like to win a Paralympic gold medal, Aled Davies finally found out for himself.

Davies, a 21-year-old from Bridgend, had a little taste of it on Friday when he won bronze in the F42 shot put. It left him hungry for more. Two days later Davies won the F42 discus with a European record throw of 46.14m.

Elated, he immediately set off on a long lap of honour. "I've never run that far in my life," he said. "I'm knackered." As excited as he was, he had to take care not to get too carried away. When he set a personal best in a World Cup event last year he tore the ligaments in his ankle because he was jumping up and down so much.

Davies, it is safe to say, is an emotional sort. He learned from competing in the shot that "I didn't need to psych myself up because the crowd were doing that for me. I didn't know about it but my body did. Adrenaline was carrying me through".

He wanted to thank every single one of the 80,000 people in the stadium, "because without them there wouldn't be this atmosphere. It's what makes the Games."

He picked out one in particular, his mother, Jackie. When he stopped to talk to her she pulled out a handkerchief and dabbed away the tears from his eyes. It was some scene.

"This," he said, "This is for her – to come here and be able to perform at my best, take the gold medal and say 'I told you I'd do it'." Back in 2004, the two of them had been watching the Athens Paralympics on television, and he had told her "One day, I'll be on that podium myself".

Davies was born with hemimelia of the right leg, which means he has "no ligaments, no tibia, and no foot". It is, he said, "all held together with metal".

He is a jovial man, and was modest enough to admit that most of the people who were cheering for him on Friday had no idea who he was. They do now.

When he was asked how he wanted to celebrate, he simply said: "I just want to be recognised as an elite athlete, because I feel that sometimes we are not recognised as elite athletes. I just want everyone to know that I have put in all the hard work to be here where I am now and if everyone can just recognise that 'do you know what? This guy has worked hard and he deserves it', then that will be an achievement on its own."

There is no doubt about that. Davies trains with an able-bodied group in Cardiff, alongside the shot putter Brett Morse and the javelin thrower Lee Doran. "I have always pursued an able-bodied career," he explained. "I train able-bodied to try to have that advantage to be one class above everyone else. It just shows that I can come here, know I am technically better than everyone else, I was in much better form than everyone else, and I managed to deliver."

He wants to carry on down that path. "I want to keep pushing the boundaries of the sport as much as I can. If I can push up to an able-bodied standard, I would love to do that. I just want to let everyone know that this is the start and hopefully I can bring a lot more to the table."

Powered by article was written by Andy Bull at the Olympic Stadium, for on Sunday 2nd September 2012 17.44 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Fighting Irish 1977