INTERNATIONAL PARALYMPIC DAY:

Ben Rushgrove: 'Every day we tread that line. To perform well when it matters, you take risks'

From racing around the playground to silver in Beijing, Ben Rushgrove tells Robin Scott-Elliot how he's pushing for gold

After five decades of moulding a succession of Olympic and world champions, Malcolm Arnold knows what it takes to succeed. "Winning means you are willing to go longer, work harder and give more than anyone else," says the man behind Dai Greene's Daegu triumph. It is an approach Ben Rushgrove is determined to match in order to find the few hundredths of a second that will allow him to turn a Beijing silver into London gold.

"I get two weeks off a year – that's it," says Rushgrove. "The rest of the time I'm basically training until it hurts. I got up this morning and could hardly feel my legs because they were tingling away like crazy because yesterday I went to the gym and did squats until they died on me. But the reward is just fantastic – to be able to say that you're Paralympic champion one day would just be epic."



Like Greene and Arnold, Rushgrove is based in Bath, one of the hubs of British athletics, and their paths will occasionally cross as the preparations for London intensify over the next few months. Rushgrove will be taking a rather less publicised route to the capital but it will be no less gruelling.



"There is definitely a line and everyday we tread that line," says Rushgrove, who has suffered from injury throughout a career that saw him break the world record for the 200m in his classification as a 19-year-old. "That's just the way my body is built. We could adopt the cautious approach but the trouble with that is you don't perform as well when it matters. So you take the risks. Coaching is basically about risk management. The coach knows you inside out."



Rushgrove, who has cerebral palsy, is coached by Rob Ellchuk, a Canadian who oversees several of the British Paralympic athletes at their base at the University of Bath. "You go out on the track and put your confidence in the coach and so far the programme is working. At every single major competition we have been to we've done a PB," says Rushgrove.



Bath born and bred, it was when he was switched to a specialist school for disabled children in Hampshire that his Paralympic potential was spotted. "I used to run around the playground because I was bored – and it was quicker than walking. This PE teacher saw me and invited me to join the athletics squad. I had gone to an able bodied school so I had never thought of myself as fast. At that age I was particularly uncoordinated. I wasn't very strong, not compared to other kids. She was able to see that I had talent."



He was 13 – six years later he was breaking a world record. A year later he was in Beijing. "I went to Beijing and I wasn't sure what to expect," says Rushgrove. "I was a young athlete, I'd been to a world champs but the Paralympics are just a whole new level. They take what is in effect quite an amateur sport and turn it into a professional endeavour with real value for real people. It's just fantastic. After Beijing I got the bug and I want more."



A foot injury forced him out of the 200m, for which he was favourite. In the 100m he finished second to the Ukrainian Roman Pavlyk and just ahead of So Wa Wai of Hong Kong. At this year's world championships, the result was reversed – with Rushgrove still the man in the middle. And all three will be in London to renew their rivalry.



"Pavlyk came third by one one-hundredth of a second," says Rushgrove. "The margins of error in this game are nothing. I ran the 100m in a European record time, the only guy to beat me was So, the world record holder. He'll be in London – he came third in Beijing so he is beatable. My race is so competitive – it's brilliant. I love it.



"If I was winning by miles I'm not convinced I would train as hard as I do. I like the fact that we are pushing the edge, finding the boundaries every day. That's exciting, what keeps me going, what keeps my brain sharp.



"The feeling when I won silver was great – if I was to win gold? Amazing. What's so special for me is that I have this opportunity to do it. Most people would kill for the opportunity I have at the moment. I am determined not to throw it away – I'm determined to make the most of it."

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'