Wheelchair racer Labrooy eyeing up Paralympic adventure

Yahoo Sport UK

Guildford athlete Dillon Labrooy insists he has learnt a lot from his Gold Coast experience as he prepares for the continent’s best at the World Para Athletics European Championships.

Labrooy took to the Commonwealth Games in April and certainly impressed, a place in the 1500m final far beyond what perhaps he and his parents had imagined for the wheelchair athlete.

But while a place on the podium didn’t come his way that time, the 20-year-old is determined not to miss out in Berlin this week.

The Weir Archery Academy racer will have three shots at glory with the 400m, 800m and 1500m all holding his attention in the T54 category.

But just going to Germany will be considered a success for Labrooy, the efforts of 2018 being rewarded for a man hoping to become a Paralympian at Tokyo 2020.

“Selection means a lot, it’s great to see that that hard work and my training is paying off, it will be my first senior GB competition so it’s a big moment for me,” he said.

“I was at the Commonwealth Games so it’s a good continuation from that, I’m hoping to make this a memorable one as well.

“The Gold Coast was something I’ve learnt a lot from, mostly with the athlete environment and dealing with away from home in tough competition.

“It’s an international standard with class athletes so there’s a lot of chance to learn from my mistakes and also what I did right.

“I was pleased with my performances out there, I aimed for the top five and that’s what I did while also finishing within two tenths of a bronze.

“It was a bit frustrating, I knew exactly what stopped me getting to the bronze as well but hopefully that’s something I can rectify this time.”

Labrooy was born in Sri Lanka but, after a birth defect left him paraplegic, his parents relocated to the UK in order to aim for a better life.

By the time he attended primary school, sport was already part of his psyche, with his school more than doing their fair share in helping him reach the top.

From there a venture into wheelchair basketball came his way but now it’s the athletics track dominating his attentions, with even bigger ambitions in mind.

“I loved it straight away, when I was playing wheelchair basketball I was always one of the quickest so I enjoyed athletes immediately,” he added.

“I was doing wheelchair basketball for quite a long time but I saw a future in athletics and wanted to look into my future in that sport.

“I’m just going to go to Berlin and do my best, hopefully qualifying for a couple of finals along the way in all of my events.

“I want to enjoy the experience and finish as high up as I can.

“I do think about Tokyo, we’ve got the worlds next year and then Tokyo the year after, it does come into your thoughts – this and the Commonwealths is something as I see as the next step into gaining experience and learning what I need to do.”

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. They do this via the funded initiative, the World Class Programme, one part of the British Athletics pathway.

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