Sidcup Paralympian Zak Skinner has a hectic lifestyle, but next week’s schedule at the World Para Athletics Championships will be gruelling even for him.
The 21-year-old is studying for a sports science degree and moonlighting as a DJ, all while competing at the highest level of his sport in both the 100m and long jump.
And heading to Dubai as reigning T13 European champion in the pit, Skinner’s track and field finals are on back-to-back evenings next Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by Thursday’s universal relay.
“It was the way I was brought up – to do everything and do it to your best,” said Skinner, whose father Mick won 21 caps for England in rugby union.
“I used to compete every weekend in three events when I was growing up. I love it. I’ve always almost been a multi-eventer.
“Competing week in, week out isn’t always the best from a performance point of view. But doing a lot of rounds is something you train for and something you plan.
“We’ve got a bit of a gap in between the two finals, but I’ve been used to events where you compete at 1pm and then 4pm. I’m ready for that.”
It’s been quite a year for Skinner. A year ago he won his first major medal at the European Championships and he’s gone beyond his pit personal best three times this season.
EUROPEAN SILVER MEDALLIST 🥈
Left it all out there and couldn't of done any more. Thank you for all the support
Wanna give a massive thank you to my family and my whole support team from British athletics as there is lots of people behind the scenes make this possible. https://t.co/ssjcOtZTQR
— Zak Skinner (@zak_skinner) August 21, 2018
Progress has been brisk on the track, too, lowering his 100m mark on three occasions. Where his previous best had been 11.20, he clocked 11.04 and 11.07 at the same meet in June.
Winning a medal on the world stage is a gap he’s desperate to plug – having finished fourth at the World Championships in London – with Tokyo 2020 firmly on his mind.
“Last year was a big learning curve for me, I’m learning more about my body and the stage I’m at now,” said Skinner.
“2017 was more about me gaining experience. The support we got as British athletes was incredible, I was thrown in the deep end and I believe I shone.
“To come out of that and finish fourth, a lot of people turned around and went ‘who’s this guy.’
“My medal in the Euros also proved I’m not someone who’s just going to turn up and finish sixth, I’m going to win a medal.
“It’s going to be so competitive and with Tokyo just around the corner, everyone wants to make a statement. Especially me.”
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