By Rebecca James
Paralympic gold medalist Mickey Bushell is in great form ahead of this year’s European championships in August.
Bushell has finished in the top two in his last seven events this season, and has been producing some very fast times, despite having a frustrating injury hit season in 2013.
The 23 year old struggled with a shoulder injury which kept him out from May to December and went straight into training in Australia with his then coach Fred Periac and said to have found it really difficult after the injury.
Bushell, who was awarded a MBE award in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list, also experienced chest problems at the beginning of this year which was feared to be a heart problem.
But thankfully these original fears were wrong and it was muscular pain around the ribs which then side-lined the Harriers star for a further month. But the Birchfield Harrier sees his success so far this season as a positive indication that he is still fit enough to be able to compete with the best in the world in his classification.
Bushell said: “It’s good to know that I’m still up there after a difficult and worrying period of time. I had big injuries last year and I had no real winter preparation. So up until now I haven’t trained since the 2012 Paralympics in London. Being able to come back to this level in what has been far from ideal circumstances is good to know for the future.”
After always enjoying sport as a child in Primary School in Shropshire, Mickey was asked if he would like to try wheelchair racing by Birchfield Harrier Deborah Brenna,n who in 2000 was crowned the Paralympic gold medalist in Sydney.
In 2008 Mickey exploded onto the world stage by securing a surprise silver medal in the 100 metres final in torrential rain Beijing Paralympics at just 18 years of age.
He said: “I was an 18 year-old teenager who I think was only ranked seventh or eighth in the world at the time. Just to qualify for the final was my goal. Anything better than was a bonus and to finish in the top five in Beijing really exceeded every one’s expectations.”
But none of the Birchfield Harrier’s performances have been more impressive than winning gold in the London 2012 Paralympics in a time of 14.75 seconds.
He added: “It was on a different level, winning a medal at any Paralympics is a dream come true but being able to win gold on your home turf is something that I don’t think could be matched.”
Bushell has recently had to face the tough task of changing his coach after just over six years training under Mr Periac who Mickey described as the most influential character in his career.
Bushell said: “It was his idea that I changed because he lives in Australia and it was just hard logistically because he couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see him. He has been an amazing part of my career having taken me from tenth in the world to Number One in my event.”
After admitting that London only seems like yesterday, the T53 sprint event competitor is now working under the direction of his new coach Jenny Archer. With training going well, the Stag is setting his sights firmly on Rio in 2016 but he has no intention of drawing a line in the sand in Brazil.
He said: “We have got Rio coming up and obviously gold is always on your mind but hen again it is also a target for all the other competitors. I must make sure that I have trained harder and am better (than the opposition) on the day.”
As well as defending his 100 metres title in Rio, Mickey is training with the aspiration to challenge for medals in both the 400 and 800 metres events.
“I also hope to be able to go onto the next Games in 2020 and then see where we are. That will mean another two Olympics cycles which will be very demanding on the body. As long as I’m injury free and I stay healthy, I think I can keep going for a long time to come.”