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Teenager Darbey excited for Paralympic debut

Wales and GB Paralympic swimmer Rhys Darbey in the pool
[Getty Images]

Welsh teenager Rhys Darbey says it feels like the hard work has paid off after he was officially selected for the 2024 Paralympic Games.

The 16-year-old from Flintshire is one of 26 swimmers named by ParalympicsGB.

It will be only his second major international event after taking silver at the Para Swimming World Championships last year.

The Paris Paralympics begin on 28 August.

"I'm feeling pretty excited," Darbey told BBC Sport Wales.

"I've been swimming eight sessions a week for two hours, getting up at half five in the morning Monday to Saturday. Then doing two or three gym sessions in the afternoons. So it's quite tiring."

Darbey was only classified in the S14 category two years ago and feels he can still improve a lot.

But his love of water was shown within his first few months of being born.

"When I was three or four months old, my mum took me swimming," he continued.

"Then I was swimming on my own by nine months.

"By six or seven I'd joined the swimming club and then I just started going to every meet I could because I just loved racing.

Rising to the big occasions

It is this love of racing that has got Darbey to the cusp of a debut Paralympics.

It is his motivation for the long hours of training in the pool and it is helping him get the most out of the big moments that come his way.

His silver at his debut World Championships came when he was not expected to medal.

Even at the recent British Championships and Paris Trials, the men's S14 200m individual medley final was his last remaining chance to get the nomination standard.

He took it.

"I feel I can really lock in when it comes to a big moment," he continued. "I'm really good at stepping up.

"When I dive in the water I feel it just clears my head of everything else that's going on."

His love of the big occasion is echoed by his coach, Craig Breeze.

"He's a proper racer," explained Breeze. "We'll get him knuckled down to some quality training and there's more to come.

"I've coached Rhys from the age of about nine. We're dead excited for him and over the moon. He's a great lad to coach."

After watching London 2012 as a five-year-old, Darbey is now preparing for his own Paralympic experience - and he is not an athlete to overlook.