Dangerous Dave Phillipson eyeing up fifth Paralympic Games

Great Britain's David Phillipson competes at the Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Cup and European Olympic Qualifier in Hungary

'Dangerous' Dave Phillipson is only one year away from defying the odds to make a fifth Paralympic Games.

The Huntingdon star made his Paralympic debut in wheelchair tennis at Beijing 2008, going on to compete at London and Rio.

Then he made an unlikely switch to para canoeing, finishing seventh at the Games in Tokyo, a sporting high-wire act that surprises nobody who knows him.

After all he earned the nickname 'Dangerous Dave' during his early days on the tennis court, amazing teammates by his thrill-seeking and ambitious outlook on life.

From doing wheelies downstairs to jumping off high boards, Phillipson is constantly on a mission to prove his doubters wrong.

And with his mum a former rally driver and his dad an ex-Navy aircraft mechanic it's not hard to see where Phillipson gets his daredevil attitude from.

"I'm that person that when someone tells me I can't do something I will go and do it," he said.

"It's nothing crazy or madly dangerous but I've never let my disability stop me and tried to push the boundaries.

"I love to be challenged and pushed and that's why sport is great for me."

The 34-year-old, who has brittle bone disease, quickly rose up the ranks on the water and was able to secure a ticket to Tokyo in the KL2 200m, finishing seventh overall.

And after a tough couple of years both physically and mentally, the former British number one in wheelchair tennis is back on the path to his fifth Games in Paris.

"It was incredible to get to Tokyo in a completely different sport," he said.

"It was my only focus for a long time, and I had a really good feeling that I would get that medal but sadly I just missed out on the podium.

"Everything went a bit downhill after. Tokyo was my light at the end of the tunnel, and I didn't have another vision for after.

"So, I sat down with my coach to reset and get myself into a good position to focus on this next cycle."

Phillipson is one of over 1,000 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing him to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering medical support – this is vital for his pathway to the Paris 2024 Games.

With the Paris 2024 Paralympics only one year away, the Games are set to inspire people and communities all across the country. Phillipson hopes that by sharing his story it will give others motivation to get involved into sport.

Phillipson raced to silver at the 2022 World Para Canoe Championships in Canada, an upgrade from his fifth-place finish in 2021.

But the paddler still has his eye on the Paralympic medal that evades his grasp.

He said: "It's just trying to qualify the boat again, which I should do, I would like to medal at the World Championships again on the way.

"Going to a fifth Paralympics, I'm not quite sure that would sink in until it's a reality, but I think it will just be an awesome achievement.

"I've done sport all my life and been a full-time athlete since I was 18 and I think getting to Paris and getting that medal would just be the cherry on top."

His parents' professions have clearly shaped Phillipson, with the Paralympian finding solace behind the revs of an engine.

"I'm not a qualified mechanic but I love tinkering with cars and going to car shows. It's a nice way to get away from sport,” he said.

"My mum had an old mini cooper when I was a kid, and she took me out in that and scared the living daylights out of me, so I think that's where my foothold came from.

"But if I wasn't in sport and didn't have my disability, I would probably want to follow in my dad's footsteps.

"He's the person who got me into sport and I love the history of the military, having grown up around it."

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