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Blake takes on the world
AFTER his success at last year’s Paralympics and all the rewards that came with it, Dorchester athlete Paul Blake is now dreaming of striking gold at Rio 2016.
Blake turned 23 last week as the curtain came down on an incredible 12 months for the silver and bronze medallist from London 2012.
And while the World Championships in July are his main target this year, Blake knows his ultimate long-term goal is doing in Brazil what he could not quite manage at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.
Blake was beaten into second place in the T36 400m and came third in the 800m so when the Paralympics head to South America in three years the Dorchester running man wants to be standing at the top of the podium.
“Winning gold in Rio is the ultimate goal, maybe two golds,” he said.
“I really enjoyed the experience of the Paralympics with the home support and to come away with silver and bronze was more than what I expected.
“But it was annoying because I wanted to win gold and I thought I could going into the Paralympics.
“But my life has changed forever because of what I achieved.
“I’ve met the Queen and been to Sports Personality of the Year and I would never have expected to do that before the Paralympics.
“The Sports Personality was quite mind blowing. It’s not every day you get to see so many famous sportspeople in one place like that.
“It has all kind of sunk in now.
“It was a massive high when it arrived then two or three weeks after there was a bit of a downer.
“The build-up was so big then you try and get yourself back into training after it and it’s quite hard to do.”
As reigning world champion over one lap Blake would love to successfully defend his title in Lyon this summer while also improving on the silver medals he won in the 800m and 1500m in Christchurch in 2011.
He is currently in training for an indoor meeting in Birming-ham on February 9 when times will count towards qualification for the World Championships.
Then there are the German Championships in Berlin a month later with a trip to the Netherlands in June before he heads to France.
Throw in a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May and it looks like another eventful year for the middle distance star.
“The world championships are my big target this year,” he added.
“I’m going to be able to do the 400m, 800m and 1500m so hopefully I can do well and try and medal in all of them.
“I obviously want to defend my 400m gold but I’d like to go one better in the other two events.
“The two Russians are my main rivals and they are both in the three events so it’s not going to be easy by any means.”
Recently there was talk of a dedicated Diamond League for Paralympians to match the one for able-bodied track and field athletes.
And Blake would be delighted if he was involved. He said: “It’s not set in stone yet but it would be great because we don’t get as many events as we’d like.
“They have had events for disabled athletes at Diamond League meetings but only for selected groups.
“It might not affect me in any way but I’d definitely be up for it if it does.
“There would be prize money as well which would be great and until now the events they have staged have been mainly for amputees and visually-impaired athletes, not so much for those with cerebral palsy.”
Studies since the Paralympics have suggested that the number of disabled people taking up sport on the back of Great Britain’s success has been well below what was hoped for.
That surprises Blake who has first-hand experience of people with disabilities being inspired to take up sport.
“From an athlete’s point of view I think we did a pretty good job in inspiring disabled athletes so it is a bit of a surprise to hear those reports,” he said.
“I’ve got a couple of mates in Dorchester and Yeovil who have taken up sport after the Para-lympics after seeing how successful it was.
“There used to be a feeling among disabled people that they weren’t good enough so they didn’t want to try sport but I think people have seen that if we can do it then they can.”