WHEELCHAIR fencer Josh Waddell is not letting coronavirus blight his Paralympic dream with a series of unorthodox training methods reigniting his bid for the Games.

The 17-year-old, who trains in Durham, is the top-seeded fencer in his age bracket and was hopeful of qualifying for Tokyo 2020 before Covid-19 halted competition globally.

His sport is seen as an individual one to most but Waddell’s experiences of being a triplet have led him to incorporate his two sisters, Sarah and Rachel, into his new improvised training methods in the back garden.

“It has been tough but I try not to worry about it too much,” explained Waddell, who has cerebral palsy.

“You cannot control what’s happening with coronavirus, so there is no point stressing about it. I have tried my best to adapt and made a target out of a yoga mat which imitates my coaches’ arm, strapped to the back of my wardrobe door.

“I go out for a few kilometres push to get my heart racing and try to keep my fitness up as well as my technique.

“In the first week of lockdown, my sisters and I were just seeing what would work and what would not.

“I wrapped one of my sisters in two resistant bands and I wrapped one on me so I would push one way and she would push the other, to try and provide some sort of strength and conditioning training.

“I quickly realised it was not going to work well because they can’t run as powerfully as I can push.”

Waddell has had an epee in his hand for more than a decade, with his talent first spotted by current coach, Laszlo Jakab, at a disability community sports event when he was seven years of age.

Immediately hooked by the sport, the talented teen has gone from strength to strength to emerge as a potential future star.

But Waddell is letting neither hype nor his seeding get in the way of working towards Paralympic honours.

“It was good for the first 30 minutes to an hour,” Waddell, who has been a beneficiary of SportsAid support since 2017, said frankly about becoming world number one.

“Once it set in, my coach and I had a talk and we agreed not to rest on our success just build from it. Yes it is a good title but it is only under-17, what I really want is a World Championship or Paralympic medal.

“Although it is a success I see it as more of a stepping stone for me to build on.

“It would be great to qualify and my intentions are to qualify for the Games. Although we are very narrow-minded for the short term, it is more about the long term and getting the experience for me to perform and qualify and gain medals in future Paralympic Games.

“When I first started fencing, I had quite a bit of fun – I thought I was a pirate or something from Star Wars!

“I loved being a seven-year-old and having a sword, when I was first invited to the club, it was just to have a go, but I’ve loved it since.”

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