Jenkins out for European glory in Berlin

Yahoo Sport UK
Harri Jenkins has switched his focus from wheelchair basketball
Harri Jenkins has switched his focus from wheelchair basketball

Harri Jenkins isn’t just going to make up the numbers in today’s World Para Athletics European Championships – he’s there to win.

The Welsh wheelchair racer will compete in the T33 100m in Berlin, the first time the 22-year-old has competed at an event on this scale.

He’ll do so in good form in a season that is improving race on race, taking his place on the start line as the fastest man in Europe.

For many that tag would come with expectation but the Neath athlete isn’t letting that slow him down on his way to potential continental glory.

“It’s great, it’s the first step of what you work for – the main aim is to get to Tokyo and the Paralympic Games but this shows that I’m going in the right direction and everything I’m doing is paying off,” he said.

“It would be nice to get out there and get on the podium but that’s not what I’m aiming for, I want to win and that’s the target – there’s no point doing it unless you feel like you’re in with a chance of winning.

“Whether that’s a pressure or not I don’t think it is, I know if I go out there and do what I can do, that’s the best and hopefully it will be good enough.

“If I push the best time that I can do, someone else will have to push their personal best to beat me and that’s all I can do – it does put a bit of pressure on but nothing crazy.”

Picking up season’s bests in the past two races means everything is back on track for Jenkins, admitting he needed a “kick up the backside” after a slow opener to his campaign.

But with his permanent switch from wheelchair basketball yielding positive results throughout, all eyes are now on the Paralympic Games and potential selection for Tokyo in two years’ time.

Berlin is therefore the first leg of that journey in more ways than one for a man who has had to switch in and out of racing in his nascent career so far, forced to stop for a few years after an operation left him unable to fit in his racing chair.

Each time he competes is therefore a blessing moment, one in which Jenkins is keen to make the most of.

“The Europeans is a bit of a smaller event so if I’m lucky enough to get to the worlds or the Paralympics, that hopefully won’t be too much of a reality check for me,” he added.

“Tokyo is the aim and this is the first step, we’ve got the worlds next year and it’s the big events that I want to be at.

“In 2015 I decided to try and make the switch back to racing and it was what I needed, it was the right move for me and it’s been paying off now with a trip to Berlin.

“I really liked playing basketball but it became stale, I didn’t enjoy getting up in the morning and wasn’t sold on what I was doing at the time.

“If you don’t enjoy it then what’s the point, you don’t want to be stuck doing something you don’t like and you want to get up in the morning looking forward to what’s to come.”

Jenkins has been in a wheelchair since the age of three after being born with cerebral palsy.

But with a love of sport unwavering since his early years, it was only natural for the Welshman to take that forward to the big stage.

“I can’t wait to train and I can’t wait to take part in competitions, there are times where I’m itching to get out there and race and that’s the place I want to be in,” he added.

“It was hard when I had to have my break from racing, it was frustrating because I love doing it but spending time away from the sport gave me perspective about how much I enjoy it.”

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.

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