28th May 2015

Rowlings Out To Mix It With The Best In Switzerland

28 May 2015 

A strong GB & NI contingent will head out to the IPC Grand Prix in Notwil, Switzerland this weekend (29-31 May). 

Six-time Paralympic champion David Weir (coach: Jenny Archer), reigning double Paralympic, European and World gold medallist Hannah Cockroft (Jenni Banks) and triple European champion Sammi Kinghorn (Ian Mirfin) are just a few of the British names that will take on a world-class field at the annual event in Switzerland.

One athlete who is relishing the prospect of facing some of his potential IPC World Championships opponents is Ben Rowlings (Job King), who is enjoying a strong start to the season after recording a personal best in the T34 800m at the opening IPC Grand Prix in Dubai earlier this year. While admitting he is more of a 400m man, the 19 year old is determined to push the limits over all distances from 100m to 800m.

Rowlings said: “My favourite event is the 400m, but my strongest is the 800m, just because of the training that I’ve been doing with Job (King) and Jenni (Banks). My strengths are that I’m able to go out hard and stick with the quick guys. However, I’m strong enough over the 100m and 200m to cause problems to the guys in front of me. I’m in really good shape and in a good place to push on and try to develop all distances making sure that there is no one in the UK that can catch me and that I’m pushing the medals come Doha and Rio.”  

The Coventry athlete will go head-to-head with some of his main rivals in Switzerland and is ready to mix it with the best in what is likely to be a dress rehearsal to this year’s IPC World Championships taking place in Doha in October. Walid Ktila, the double Paralympic champion and reigning World Champion over four distances is just one of the athletes Rowlings will face and believes that while the Tunisian is leading the way, the gap is beginning to close.

“The best guys in the world are going out there with Walid, the Tunisian world record holder, and I’m hoping he puts down some quick times and gives me something to chase. It’s probably going to be a replica of the final we’re going to get in Doha so it will give me a really good chance to see where I’m at going into the worlds and whether I’m able to push for a top four/five finish where realistically I’m hoping to be.

“I’m going in the right direction. I’m making the steps albeit small ones, but they all add up. The guys that have been racing have been doing it for years, whereas I’m just in my fourth season and I’m closing the gap. It’s just matter of time – it might be frustrating seeing Walid out in front by 20-30m, but we’re closing on him slowly. Out in Dubai I was within a chair length of him in the 800m, which is unknown territory for me because I’d never experienced it before. I’ve just got to worry about what I’m doing, not concentrate on the guys around me. They’ve got their game plans and I’ve got mine.”

While the primary competition for the T34 racers is Ktila, Rowlings is not discounting any of his other rivals especially with the Rio Paralympic Games on the horizon in 2016.

“The competition is going to be stacked; it always is in Switzerland, so that will give me the platform ahead of Rio.  However, you never know what will happen next year, because anyone can come out of the woodwork. It’s a good preparation for Worlds, but it’s not the be all and the end all because it’s all about Rio as that’s where people are going to make names so that’s where we are going to be judged more.”  

Rowlings himself enjoyed the best year of his career in 2014, winning two bronze medals at the IPC European Championships and that taste of the podium has made him even more determined to re-write the wrongs of Swansea by being more clinical in his race strategy.

“It (Swansea) gave me that hunger knowing that I hate losing and Isaac (Towers) got me in that 800m. I made one mistake in that race and it cost me a silver or gold medal. I know where I went wrong and understand how to cope with the pressure a little bit more. With Swansea I felt quite nervous going into it as my first major championships, so I felt the pressure. I feel like I’ve grown as an athlete and I know what I need to do going into future competitions so that I’m in a stronger place.”  

One person who has given Rowlings invaluable input is double Paralympic, World and European Champion Hannah Cockroft. After spending a considerable time training with the multiple world record holder, he has learnt some invaluable lessons, which will be essential in his quest for future medal glory.

“Hannah’s brought experience to the table. She wouldn’t like to admit it but she’s one of the older people in the team now but it’s her experience and the ability to cope with different situations, pressure, nerves and expectations people put on you. Just having that to draw upon is a great asset to touch on when I need it. She’s a mentor but a friend too, so if I need someone to help calm me down I’ve got her to call on.”

For full startlists for the IPC Grand Prix Final in Switzerland, please visit: http://www.rollstuhlsportevents.ch/en/events_2015/athletics_parathletics_ipc_athletics_grand_prix_nottwil/registrationparticipants/