Aled Davies ready to relive 2012 memories at London World Para Athletics Championships

Aled Davies has experienced few blips throughout the course of his relatively short yet glittering golden career, and the Paralympic thrower has no intention of slipping up when the World Para Athletics Championships finally land on home soil in July.

17/03/2017 16:30

The F42 thrower has reigned supreme in the discus and shot put for four years now, firmly establishing himself as the world's best off the back of his debut Paralympic Games in London where he plundered gold in the discus and bronze in the shot.

It's a well-documented tale the impact of the London Games on the growth and progression of para sport, but Davies, who made the tough decision in 2005 to step away from a promising swimming career and make a go of athletics, credits his international debut at the World Championships in New Zealand the previous year as providing him with the platform to truly show off his talents on the Paralympic stage.

"That’s where everything changed for me. It wasn’t just about making London 2012. I realised I could go there, do some damage and come away with a medal," Davies says.

"But London 2012 was beyond my wildest dreams. I sat in bed every night thinking of walking into that stadium, putting in the performance and coming away with a gold. It was very, very unexpected. It was a tough slog because once you win you don’t want to do anything but win.

"I’ll always cherish the emotions and memories of being in a home stadium. I was lucky enough my first Games was London 2012 and it will be hard for anything to ever beat that. But I can’t actually wait for this summer to be back in that stadium and relive all those moments."

Davies is as effusive as they come in terms of praise for the London 2012 Games, saying that it "catapulted para sport 20 years forward". Even with his status as a international medallist, the proud Welshman says it was a boon for his own personal confidence and sense of identity.

"Speak to any para athlete involved in London before and after, and they’ll say how much 2012 was a game-changer for us," Davies said. "What really struck me was that everyone’s perceptions changed. It catapulted para sport about 20 years forward. People didn’t care about the disability. They just wanted to see athletes at the best standard competing and, of course, British people winning.

"I didn’t wear a pair of shorts until I was 16 and I saw children walking about the park with prosthetic limbs and other disabilities. They had shorts and vests on because the weather was nice. I never had that confidence when I was young but it was now acceptable. There’s your legacy right there." 

Davies' hopes of winning the double in Rio, as he had desperately hoped for, were dashed once the discus - his favourite of the two throws - was removed from the Paralympic schedule. With a burning desire to complete a World Championship 'triple-double' of golds, spurred on further by a missed opportunity to improve last year on his showing at the 2012 Games, the 25-year-old is also treating London as his shot at redemption.

"Coming off that podium in 2012 with a gold and a bronze, I was obviously overwhelmed. I went to the World Championships a year later to show it wasn’t a one-off and I got two world titles and two world records. I did it in 2015 too but it was a shame I couldn’t go to Rio to compete for two golds," Davies says.

"I’ve got to be honest and say I am going for that triple-double this year. I want to show everyone we are taking the event forward. I’ve been working so hard in the last few years to throw as far as possible. This is a bit of redemption now because I get to go in that stadium and it will be like 2012."

With just four months to go, Davies is again preparing to seize the chance to push the sport on yet further and once more capture the imagination of a nation.

"There’s no better thing than competing in a home championships. To be in that Olympic stadium, I don’t think anyone will realise how special it is until you’re ready to go," he adds.

"It’s up to us now to try and capture the spectators and the world again with what we can do."

Aled Davies will look to defend his World Para Athletics Championship discus title on Sunday 16 July and his shot put title on Saturday 22 July. Visit https://tickets.london2017athletics.com/ to purchase tickets.