Paralympic champion Arnold aiming for able-bodied competitions

By Tom BrownBBC Wales Sport
Paralympic champion Hollie Arnold aiming for able-bodied events

Paralympic javelin champion Hollie Arnold says wants to also compete in able-bodied competitions after the World Para Athletics Championships.

Arnold, 22, threw a world record 43.01m on her way to a first Paralympic gold medal in Brazil last year.

The Cardiff-based athlete says she wants to help 'integrate' the Olympic and Paralympic sides of the sport.

"I just want to be able to push myself more and compete in that able-bodied environment," she told BBC Wales Sport.

"Obviously I'll probably never go to the Olympics, but to be really great and so far ahead of the other (para-athlete) girls - that's what ticks me," she added.

"I want people to recognise me as 'ok, she might be a Paralympic athlete, but she's pretty good able-bodied too'."

Hollie Arnold
Hollie Arnold celebrates her record in Rio

Change of coach

Arnold, who was born without her right forearm, changed coaches after Rio. She now trains with David Parker, lead throws coach at Loughborough University.

"She's undoubtedly capable of more," said Parker. "She's definitely not at her physical peak.

"I think for Hollie it's just about being more accepted as an elite javelin thrower in her own right."

Hollie's F46 javelin world record is around 25m short of the leading able-bodied distance this year.

But she believes she can improve dramatically on that and throw 50m by Tokyo 2020.

"It's all about gaining respect," she believes.

"Hopefully in the able-bodied world I'll gain respect by going out there, throwing competitively and hopefully beating some of them."

Hollie Arnold
Hollie Arnold has the choice between representing Wales or England at the Commonwealth Games

Wales or England?

After July's World Para Athletics Championships, Arnold will also focus on the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

It will be the first time her F46 category has been included in the event.

But she says it will be tough to decide whether to compete for England, where she was born, or Wales, where she's lived since she was 15.

"It's a very difficult decision and I don't know if everyone's going to be impressed with whatever decision I make," she said.

"But it's all about medals and when the time comes, I'll decide."

Arnold and her coach have had 'serious discussions' about whether she should leave Cardiff and move to Loughborough permanently.

"I will miss Cardiff if I do have to move," Arnold said.

"But it's very hard for me to train on my own and I just need the technical work with him (coach Parker)."

But for now Arnold's focus is entirely on a home World Championships, adding to her 2013 and 2015 gold medals and continuing to earn the respect of being a world class javelin thrower.