World champ Paul now eyeing Paralympic gold

GOLDEN BOY:  Kevin Paul is met by his mother, Katharina, on his return to  Port ElizabethPicture: MIKE HOLMES -
GOLDEN BOY: Kevin Paul is met by his mother, Katharina, on his return to Port ElizabethPicture: MIKE HOLMES –

FORMER Port Elizabeth Paralympic swimmer Kevin Paul, who has been crowned the new world champion in the 100m breaststroke at the International Paralympic Committee world championships in Glasgow, says a Paralympic Games gold medal is next on his list.

The former Grey High pupil, who lives and trains in Durban, jetted in to Port Elizabeth yesterday to visit family and said the medal was a big confidence booster.

“We are almost one year out from the Rio Games,” Paul, 24, said.

“The biggest thing when going into a huge competition like that is confidence.

“My coach and I have been training really hard over the last three years.

“The move to Durban and the change of coaches last year has been a big change in my set-up. This was a huge stepping stone towards next year.

“Walking away with a gold medal and being able to call ourselves the world champs in the 100m breaststroke will set our confidence much higher.

“This is something that we have been working towards and now that we have got it we’ll tick it off the list. Now we are looking at the Paralympic gold medal.”

Paul – who is still a registered NMMU law student and intends returning to his studies – says winning gold in Glasgow on Thursday added pressure. “Confidencewise, it [the medal] is the most important thing when standing behind the block for the finals . . . at the Paralympic Games.

“I wouldn’t want to stand there as the person who came second or third a year before. There’s more confidence knowing I’ve beaten all those guys a year ago.

“When you are on top, there is a target on your head. I will have to work even harder now. This will also motivate me.

“When it’s cold and raining and I don’t feel like getting into the pool at 5am, the medal will remind me that there are people gunning for me,” he said.

Paul believes gold medals are more important than breaking world records.

While records were “there to be broken” when it came to world champs and Paralymic medals, “that is something no one can ever take away from you”.

Paul believes his move to Durban paid off. “Being around swimmers like Myles Brown and Chad le Clos every day . . .

“It has grown me as a swimmer and as a person. It has raised my confidence. I am more mature as an athlete.”

-Vuyokazi Nkanjeni

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