Anthony Gotts enjoyed a pleasant surprise on Sunday as he discovered his preparations for next year’s Commonwealth Games are ahead of schedule with his performance in the Lisbon Half Marathon.
The wheelchair athlete had suffered a setback earlier this year when he was injured in a road accident while returning from a training run.
However, with the help of his club Clayton-le-Moors Harriers, GW Fitness and Rehab, and top coach Jenny Archer, Gotts’ dream of competing at Glasgow 2014 is back on track.
The 30-year-old from Rossendale had taken part in the world’s fastest wheelchair race on September 13, the Tyne Tunnel 2km.
Last year Gotts completed the course in 8:20, reaching a top speed of 37mph, but this year he registered 41.8mph, clocking 5:54 to finish ninth.
He was also the third British finisher behind Paralympic star David Weir, who with Archer, has formed the Weir Archer Academy to help further disability sport in the UK, with Gotts part of the Academy.
He then remained in the North East for the Great North Run on September 15, when he slashed his personal best for the half-marathon from 77 minutes to 55:32. And Gotts felt that rounded off his “best-ever weekend of racing”, justifying his invitation to Sunday’s event.
“It was a bit of a surprise as I hadn't done a qualifying time,” he explained. “But I think the organisers had seen my 5km and 10km times and seen I had a bit of potential at half marathon.
“I spoke to my coach Jenny about going and we agreed if I was to race I needed to get some serious work done in training as it wouldn’t have been fair to waste the race organisers’ money – they paid for my stay in Portugal.
“It was my first international race and the course in Lisbon is not considered a fast one.”
But despite potholes, speed bumps and a 250m stretch of cobbles at the finish, Gotts managed to trim his PB again, finishing eighth in 54:26.
“Even the race organisers were shocked that somebody had done a PB on such a rough course,” said Gotts.
“I beat quite a few Paralympians as well so I’m really happy with that result in an invite-only international race.”