An athlete now living in Linlithgow is looking forward to starring for Team GB at next month’s World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai.
Ben Rowlings (23) was born in Shrewsbury but moved to Linlithgow after meeting his girlfriend Alice who hails from the town and was a fellow student at Stirling University.
Ben told the Journal and Gazette: “I moved in with my girlfriend in Linlithgow last March.
“I’m looking forward to competing in the T34 100m, 400m and 800m wheelchair racing events for athletes with cerebral palsy in Dubai, where the temperatures will be really hot at around 36 degrees.
“The 100m will be a bit of a warm-up event for me but I’m in the top three or four in the world for both the 400m and 800m and will be going for medals in them.
“There is only half a second between the best times of six guys in the 800m so that will be very close.
“Alice will be following my races via live streaming. I also think that Channel Four’s More Four will be showing bits and pieces.
“Alice actually gets more nervous watching than I do competing.”
Despite his tender years, Ben has developed into an experienced international athlete since first taking up wheelchair racing as a beginner seven years ago after being inspired by watching the 2012 Paralympics in London.
He has since competed in three European Championships – winning 400m and 800m silver medals in Berlin last year – plus two World Championships and the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
He is determined to again make the GB Paralympic squad for next summer’s showpiece in Tokyo.
“Qualifying for the next Paralympics is definitely on the cards for me,” Ben said.
“It is the biggest sporting event I will have and only comes around every four years.
“On my current form I have a good chance of making the GB team.
“I just need to keep racing as well as I can, showing the same level of consistency in major championships.
“Rio four years ago was a big learning curve.
“The Paralympics has a completely different type of atmosphere.
“Tokyo could be my second time in it and I will be a bit more relaxed this time because I know what to expect.”
Talking of relaxation, Ben revealed he was far from relaxed when waiting to hear if he’d done enough to earn qualification for the upcoming World Championships, which will see him compete in the various events on November 8, 9, 10, 14 and 15.
“Waiting to find out if I’d been picked was the stressful bit,” he added.
“But I have been really consistent this year which went in my favour with the selectors. Now I just want to get out to Dubai and race.”