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Zac Shaw learned first-hand on the Gold Coast the fine margins of elite sport and had no intention of a repeat in Birmingham.
The para-athlete from Grimsby, who is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support, was part of the Team England squad in Australia four years ago and went out in the heats of the 100m T11/12.
So, with family and friends having already booked tickets for a potential final at Alexander Stadium at his second Commonwealth Games, he was determined to make sure history would not strike twice.
Shaw was a convincing winner of his heat, crossing the line in 11.01 to qualify second-fastest for the Thursday’s final.
He said: “In Gold Coast I didn’t make it out of the heat. I came second but with the way qualification was, I didn’t get through so this time I knew I had to win the heat. After about 40 or 50 I felt quite comfortable, so I didn’t want to push too hard.
“I didn’t feel pressure as such, but I’ve got so many people who have booked tickets for tomorrow night that there was some pressure from that. So, no pressure from Gold Coast, wanted to right the wrongs though.”
Shaw came out to massive cheers from the 30,000-strong crowd at Alexander Stadium and proceeded to lay down a marker.
And while he was a little taken aback to find he was not the only athlete treated to such an ovation, he admitted it was overwhelming to hear the level of support for the competitors.
He joked: “The crowd were so good, they were cheering the other nations, I was on the start line thinking ‘what are you doing?’. But they were good.
“I’ve got my family and friends here, so it was nice to see them.
“This is a special moment, it’s the sort of thing you get maybe once, twice in a lifetime. It’s a proud moment.”
Very much a contender for a medal, Shaw is focused on gold. Asked whether he has more left in the tank, his reply was emphatic: “Hell yeah.”
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