World Para-Athletics Championships: Davies and Arnold bid for double glory

By Tom BrownBBC Wales Sport
Aled Sion Davies on fatherhood, family and a fourth world title

British Para-athletes Aled Siôn Davies and Hollie Arnold are aiming to join an exclusive club by winning their fourth consecutive world titles this week.

The World Para-Athletics Championships begin in Dubai on Thursday, 7 November.

Only Richard Whitehead and Hannah Cockroft have won four successive titles at World Championships for Great Britain.

But Welsh competitors Davies and Arnold have concerns over potential crowd numbers at the showpiece event.

Their worries follow similar complaints at the recent IAAF World Championships in Doha.

"This one [a fourth world title] would be pretty special," said Davies, 28, who has three world titles in both shot put and discus, but will competing in just the F63 shot this time.

"I'm not ranked number one in the world at the moment - I'm actually third. So I'm not going in as the favourite.

"My competitors have thrown a long way this year and are in great form. But I know I've worked harder than any of those guys and I know what I'm capable of doing."

Becoming a dad

Welshman Davies became a father for the first time in September when his daughter Phoebe was born.

He previously spoke of suffering from depression after returning from the 2016 Paralympics.

But now he says his daughter is helping put things into perspective.

"Having a family now, it makes you realise that I can come here and have a bad session, but as soon as I walk through the door and see Phoebe's face, everything's irrelevant," Davies told BBC Sport Wales.

"I always used to get heartbroken because I was so emotionally invested in training and competing but at the moment I'm starting to enjoy things again.

"Phoebe coming into the picture now has really put things into perspective because it's not the end of the world if things don't go to plan.

"I'm honestly more excited about Phoebe watching me compete. It won't matter what the outcome is."

'I'd love to get that world record back'

Hollie Arnold celebrates a good throw at the Commonwealth Games
Hollie Arnold won the F46 javelin gold medal for Wales at the 2018 Commonwealth Games

Arnold, 25, is the reigning Paralympic, World, Commonwealth and European champion in the F46 javelin.

But earlier this year she lost her world record to rival Holly Robinson, who threw over 45m for the first time.

"It was really hard to take because I felt like it was mine," she said.

"But I've always said the world records are there to break, but the medals will never be taken away from me.

"Holly's at a completely different stage to me - she was already throwing six months before I even started [this season]. So I can't compare until we're there on the day.

"She did really well to throw that, but I'm looking forward to going head-to-head again. That's when the fight's going to start."

One man and his dog

Ahead of the Dubai World Championships, both athletes are sceptical about potential crowd numbers with Arnold fearing "only a man and a dog" would be in the stadium.

Davies says the world's best Para-athletes have earned the right to have people there to watch.

"These athletes - not just me - train to be the best in their discipline." he said.

"They deserve spectators; they deserve to have that big stage to deliver a performance and show everyone what they can do.

"I feel sorry for Dubai - they're missing out on some incredible performances if they don't turn up."

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