Croydon’s Young looking forward to Paris Paralympics being a family affair


Usain Bolt was the man who inspired Thomas Young’s scorching Tokyo Paralympic gold.

But after that behind-closed-doors triumph at such a Covid-ravaged Games, Britain’s red-hot 100m star now can’t wait to defend his title in Paris with friends and family in attendance.

Croydon’s Young, 23, stunned his T38 rivals with a stirring triumph in the blue riband event at an empty Japan National Stadium.

But with the first European Games since London 2012 just around the corner, the Croydon-born ace is expecting his nearest and dearest to flock to the French capital in September.

Young, whose classification is for athletes who have cerebral palsy, credited the influence of eight-time Olympic champion and 100m world record holder Bolt for that unforgettable Japanese triumph, vowing to raise him and become a ‘dominant force’ in the sport across the next three Games in Paris, Los Angeles and Brisbane.

“Any kid growing up in this sport was inspired by Usain Bolt and he’s got three 100m golds and I’d like that too, maybe more,” said Young after that Tokyo triumph sealed in European record time.

He’s now relishing the prospect of strutting his stuff at the iconic Stade de France and hopes to capture the hearts of both those in attendance and the watching British public back home.

Great Britain’s Thomas Young celebrates winning Gold during the Men’s 100m – T38 Final at the Olympic Stadium during day four of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan. Picture date: Saturday August 28, 2021.

“My friends and family obviously couldn’t be there for the Games in Tokyo,” said Young, speaking as an Aldi ambassador around their Nearest and Dearest programme ahead of Paris. “Having my friends and family able to come out to Paris and watch me run is going to be unbelievable.

“To have everyone alongside me is going to be special. I can go out there, hopefully do really well and make people proud back home. Going in as a defending champion is going to be a whole other level.

“People will be in there to beat you, but I can’t wait to be out there and showcase what I can do all over again. I remember thinking ‘36 months until the Paralympics’ and now we’re around five months out.

“It has come around so quickly, but I’ve learnt so much since Tokyo, I think I’ve physically got stronger, and I’ve mentally got stronger. I can’t wait to use all of those aspects to make my performance unbelievable in Paris.”

Aldi’s Nearest & Dearest programme helps maximise support and minimise potential distractions for athletes so that they can focus on their performance and make the most of the unique opportunity to compete on one of the world’s largest stages.

Young has endured a turbulent time since Tokyo and was forced to miss the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham because of ligament damage in his lower leg.

And that significantly affected his preparation for last year’s World Championships in Paris, where he could only muster a seventh-place finish in the 100m final.

Next stop for Young is this year’s showpiece in Kobe, Japan, where he hopes to be firing on all cylinders ahead of his hotly-anticipated Paralympic title defence.

And with a world record also in his sights, he reckons the adversity he has battled through since Tokyo can help him fulfil that bold ambition.

“The setbacks have been tough,” said Young. “My fall took me out of the Commonwealth Games and really impacted my preparation for Paris World Championships, but I’m fully healed and back to being at my best. I’m going to Kobe next for the World Championships and I’ll have the opportunity to race around Europe before the Paralympics.

“I’ll have a few races on home turf with the Diamond League and British Champs. The world record is still a goal, it’s not something I live my daily life by – but as long as I take my training seriously it will just come one day. I’ve already learnt so much and we’ve still got five months.”

Aldi are proud Official Partners of Team GB & ParalympicsGB, supporting all athletes through to Paris 2024

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