Paralympic champion Aled Davies aims for fresh start

Aled Davies
Davies was the captain of the Welsh team at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games

Paralympic discus champion Aled Davies says his new coach Ryan Spencer-Jones can help take him to new heights.

Davies, 24, recently parted company with long-time mentor Anthony Hughes, who had coached him since he was 15.

"Ryan believes he can takes me to levels that I never imagined and I can't wait to see it unfold," Davies told BBC Sport.

"When it comes to the Rio Paralympics I know I have to improve and throw further."

The Welshman, who was born with limited function in his right leg, took up athletics aged 15 after starting out as a swimmer and has enjoyed international success in both the discus and shot events, winning gold in the discus and bronze in the shot at London 2012.

But although he won European titles this year in both of his events and broke the discus world record, the disappointment of missing out on a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games was a low point.

"People will probably say I am harsh on myself but I don't think I have had a good year," said Davies, who was beaten in the combined F42/44 discus event in Glasgow by GB team-mate Dan Greaves, who was representing England.

"Coming out of winter training I was in good shape and thought I would progress a lot more than I did, but there were a lot of technical things frustrating me over the season.

"Glasgow knocked me for six. It was an event close to my heart and representing Wales and being team captain I wanted to lead by example and win gold but it was a tough competition and it was very hard to then pick myself up for the IPC European Championships in Wales.

"I needed to end on a high for my own confidence knowing I was still number one and the best at what I do and it was good to end on a win there."

Aled Davies factfile
Born: 24 May, 1991
Started as a swimmer before switching to athletics in 2006
Made major senior international debut in 2011 winning discus silver at IPC World Championships in New Zealand
Won F42 discus gold and F42/44 shot bronze at London 2012
Won discus and shot titles at the 2013 World Championships and 2014 European Championships
Current F42 world record holder with 48.69m (discus) and 14.71 (shot)

But Davies is full of praise for the influence that Hughes has had on his career.

"Anthony and I finished on good terms and he says he will be there when I need him which is great to know," he says. "He is a fantastic coach and has years of knowledge and I have so much respect for him.

"Telling him that I was leaving was probably the toughest thing I have ever had to do because I looked on him almost as family. But he respected my decision and only wants what is best for me. He still has a strong group of athletes working with him and also some young talents and he will get them to the top.

"I wanted to try a different angle this winter and I knew I would only kick myself for not trying it, and I believe the best way for that was to try a new coach with new training methods and a new technique and see what happens."

Davies will be hoping to compete indoors before his outdoor season, which will culminate in the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha from 22-31 October.

However, he must wait until early next year to find out whether his discus event will be reinstated into the Rio programme or whether he will only be able to compete in shot.

Spencer-Jones has represented Wales at two Commonwealth Games, including Glasgow, and as well as coaching Davies will also be taking on his strength and conditioning work. Davies says he is already seeing improvements in their first six weeks together.

"It is a new approach and there is a lot to learn and now is the time to make the change," he said.

"I am getting up and have new things to do every day and there is variety in my training which keeps me on my toes and only six weeks in I am seeing progress and it is exciting.

"I didn't want to be a high 40m+ thrower in the discus and 14m in the shot all my career. I want to push my barriers and distances and take my throwing to the next level.

"It would have been easy to sit back and ride the wave but I am at the top and I want to push those records and take the gold medals away from everyone else."

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