On the cusp of greatness, Brenden Hall and Ben Popham are looking to stamp their place in history and represent their country at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Addressing the media during the team’s pre-departure camp in Cairns, the duo gave an insight into their preparation and their last training push before they leave for Japan next week.
With Covid rules, boarder closures and hardened restrictions, the team were lucky to get up to Cairns and are eager to make their mark in Tokyo like their fellow Olympic Dolphin teammates did.
Entering his maiden Paralympic Games, Ben says that the change in dynamics has helped him to produce consistent times in the pool, whilst maturing and learning from veteran athletes Ellie Cole and Brenden Hall.
“I think Covid actually came at a pretty good time,” Ben said.
“I just want to be able to put my best foot forward on the day, that’s a massive thing for me.”
“Hopefully on a good day, the cards will fall my way, but I think for me it’s quite individualised in making sure I hit my stroke rates and that stuff rather than external things.”
With Tokyo marking the first major international meet for the Australian swim team since 2019, the Western Australian is excited to compete in the 100m freestyle (S8) and 400m freestyle (S8) against some of the greatest swimmers in his maiden Paralympic Games.
“All the team are really, really focused coming into this campaign,” Popham said.
“Everyone’s ready to race, everyone’s raring to go and its quite exciting to be a part of.”
“We are just backing ourselves, with all the uncertainty in the past two years and we’ve had limited opportunities to race and race fast; I’m learning to use my gut and back myself.”
Veteran and four-time Paralympian Brenden Hall believes that the extra year of preparation for the Games has helped the Dolphins team solidify their race plans and really make the most of training.
“With covid we’ve learnt to adapt and control everything within a bubble,” Hall said.
“In the long run we have a job to do and that’s the most important thing out of this, it actually makes it easier that when the time comes to get that job done because you know you’ve been very repetitious with how you’ve approached everything.”
“All you have to do is just got through the motions, then hopefully when the time does come it just falls into place and all the pieces come together like a nice puzzle.”
In a career spanning more than a decade, the Queenslander is set to swim in the 100m backstroke (S9), 100m butterfly (S9) and the 400m freestyle (S9).
The Tokyo bound Paralympic swim team assembled in Cairns earlier this month for their final preparations before the games start on the 24 August.