AS we continue our countdown to the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, which are now 18 weeks away, deputy sports editor RUSSELL CLAYDON caught up with a teenager hoping to open his golden ticket this summer.
WHEN 19-year-old Jonathan Adams enters the ampitheatre that is the Olympic Stadium in Stratford in two weeks time he will hope it is merely his prelude to an extraordinary summer competing in the capital.
The discus and shot putt thrower from Great Cornard, near Sudbury, begins his season exactly where he wants it to climax, in the stadium that will hold the world’s collective attention in just a few months time.
The Paralympic Test Event for track and field on May 8 will not just be for the organisers and crowds to gauge where they are, but also for athletes, like Adams, to measure where they stand in the race to be part of it.
For the former Great Cornard Upper School pupil, who was diagnosed with a form of Cerebal Palsy at birth, the selection process for the Great Britain team he has been part of since 2008 will not start until July.
But from now until then there is plenty of work to, with Adams having to obtain minimum throws for both his chosen events several times in a limited number of International Paralympic Committee sanctioned events to even stand a chance to be considered — though both his personal bests surpass them.
“I made the qualification standard last year — the A standard (out of A and B) – but I have to replicate that again this year three or five times,” explained Adams, who has had to battle with completely changing the trajectory he is throwing at less than 12 months before the Games start after moving from standing to seated throwing due to his impairment increasing.
But after Adams has achieved these qualification marks, which do not guarantee a spot in the Great Britain track and field team, what happens then?
“A decision is made based on world rankings to be considered from British Athletics then decided with the British Paralympic Association, the BPA,” he said. “It is kind of like an X Factor process — once you have made the standards three or five times there are a lot of people going for the places so you have got to get them as much as possible to make sure you give yourself the best chance.”
And Adams is confident he can hit the right note and stand out from the crowd with the BT Paralympic Cup on May 22 the biggest event before the Paralympics.
Adams, who has been throwing the discus and shot putt as well as previously competing in javelin for more than 10 years now, knows time is on his side with his Paralympic dream, and willingly admits a place at London 2012 would feel like striking gold already.
“For me my biggest objective and goal is just to get my name on the sheet,” said Adams who went through major reconstructive surgery on his legs from 2006 to 2010 to allow him to walk normally again having walked on his toes previously. “If I was, that would be like winning my own gold medal in terms of my surgery and being seated for
so little time.
“For me, London is a big part of my life but there is Rio in 2016, the championships in France next year and I am still very young with a lot of opportunities open to me.”
Adams, who won two silver medals in his first seated event at the IWAS World Junior Championships in Dubai last year in mixed classifications (meaning even a longest throw would not guarantee gold as a points system ranks your against your disability compared to other competitors), will be heading to Portugal for a training camp with Team GB on April 6.
Although he is now based in the Midlands in internationally-renowned sports town Loughborough, where many stars choose to train, Adams still returns regularly to Suffolk and trains at Zest Fitness Centre in Sudbury, also one of his sponsors.