Five-time Paralympic medallist Dan Greaves considered retirement after disappointment at last year’s World Para Athletics Championships.
But he will be glad he didn’t after setting a new European record in the F44 discus at this month’s England Athletics Senior Disability Championships.
Greaves admitted he had toyed with the idea of deciding to call time on an incredible career which has seen him at the top of the sport for nearly two decades.
He won his first Paralympic medal back at the Sydney Games in 2000 where he was on the second step of the podium and four years later, in Athens, he went one better.
Greaves has medalled at every Paralympic Games since with a second silver at London 2012 as well as bronze in Beijing and Rio.
So high have been his standards that a fourth-place finish at the London World Championships last year, where he was co-captain, was seen as a disappointment and raised questions over his future.
“To be honest I did think about retiring, but I decided that I know I can achieve more. Athletes are greedy, we always want more,” he said.
After the World Championships it was a really tough decision. It did go through my mind that I was on this downward curve. Had I peaked in my athletics career?
“I thought I have still got more to give and I still owe the sport something. I have got to do myself justice and when I retire I would like to end on a high or when I feel the time is right.
“Last year I put all the hard work in going to the World Championships and to only throw 57.01m – something I could have thrown in 2016 with my eyes shut on a bad day.
“It was really disappointing to put all the effort and training in and to go to waste. I had fantastic support from (my coach) Paula and she believed in me.
“I have now achieved a lifetime best when I thought I was over the hill last year. It’s really satisfying to know that all the hard work wasn’t in vain.
“I had amazing support from all my friends and family. It just goes to show that a bit of perseverance, changing your training style, and having that belief shows you can succeed.”
Fast forward 12 months and Greaves has re-set the bar in the F44 discus at the perfect time with the European Championships taking place in Berlin this week.
The reigning European champion launched the discus to 63.01m, adding 67cm to his previous best, despite not originally planning to go to the meet in Manchester.
“It was an event I didn’t have in my plans because I thought it might be a little bit too close to the Europeans,” he added.
“I changed my mind at the last minute. I have been in great shape in training. I knew something was there and I wanted a season’s best or an over 60m to prove to myself that I could do it.
“First round I threw 60.75m which was great, another season’s best and another tick in my head that I can throw 60m. With the conditions I knew there was so much more there and in the final round I threw 63.01m.
“It didn’t seem like a 63m throw, so it was quite surreal actually. It didn’t really sink in until I was on my way home in the car just what I had achieved.
“I have always wanted to pass 65m and to throw now within a metre of the world record and two metres off 65m – that really blows my mind. The achievement hadn’t really settled in until I was on my way home.”
This month’s European Championships will be the 35-year-old’s fifth and he has taken gold at all his previous four.
And the European record holder revealed how he has maintained a more positive mindset by using journals of past performances and training blocks.
“I went through some of my old diaries this week to have a look back through at how prepared I was, what things I had been doing, to reiterate all my good performances,” he explained.
“When I broke the European record in 2014 that was a standout performance to me and now I am up on most of the things I did then.
“It’s a good reinforcement. I usually look back at when I have done well to give me a confidence boost to know where I am at and I am doing the right things.
“It’s not like a Dear Diedre. It’s for when I have a really good session I will write down everything that I have done. I mainly just look at the throws, type and the type of volume that I throw.
“That will hopefully come off with my fifth gold which would be amazing.”
British Athletics works alongside UK Sport and the National Lottery to support the delivery of success at the world’s most significant sporting events, principally the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We do this via the funded initiative, the World Class Programme, one part of the British Athletics pathway.