Heanor's Dave Ellis has won an extremely impressive amount of gold medals in the PTVI (para-triathlon visually impaired) category of the para-triathlon. The 35 year-old is a four-time world, European and national champion. Despite the numerous successes in an excellent career so far, there still remain gold medals that Ellis is desperate to add to his collection. This summer provides a huge opportunity for Ellis to conquer another major event as he will compete in his first ever Commonwealth Games in the para-triathlon. Not only will it be his debut appearance in this major event, but it will also be a home Commonwealth Games with the plethora of sports taking place in Birmingham with England as the host nation. Derbyshire Media Company managed to catch up with Dave Ellis recently to see how his preparations are going for this summer's Commonwealth Games. 2021 ended superbly for the Heanor star with gold medals won at the European Triathlon Championships in Valencia and the World Triathlon Para Championships in Abu Dhabi. But has his excellent form carried into the first half of 2022? "It's been a bit up and down. I managed to break both my arms. That meant I wasn't allowed to train outside for eight weeks due to the risk of re-fracturing, so I spent a lot of time on the treadmill. But luckily, it's actually stood me in good stead. I raced over the weekend just gone and had a really good race. Probably my best leg on the bike. We put together a really solid race. Hopefully, I can build on that towards the Commonwealth Games." The other major gold medal that's missing from Ellis's CV is the most prestigious one of them all: a Paralympic Games gold medal. Ellis competed for Great Britain at the Tokyo Paralympics last year but heartbreak occurred when part of a wheel on his bike broke off completely and the Derbyshire sports star was forced to retire from the event when in a very promising position for a medal. Ellis was asked whether the disappointment and misfortune of what happened at Tokyo has motivated him even further to win a Commonwealth gold medal in 2022: "Yeah, definitely. Even for the second half of last year, it motivated me to go on and win the European and the World Championships after the disappointment of Tokyo. Knowing that I had the Commonwealth Games to come the year after too, that was something good that I could focus on and ensure that I didn't dwell on the disappointment of the Paralympics where I didn't even finish the race, never mind missing out on a medal. Having the Commonwealth Games this year is definitely the big focus and if I get a great result, I'll be over the moon." In our chat, Dave gave us an insight into how he got started in the para-triathlon and told us what he considers to be his strongest section of the sport: "I went to the 2008 Paralympics as a swimmer. Unfortunately, I missed out on London 2012. However, that allowed me to have a look at switching sports and see what else was about. That's when I got into triathlon and I really enjoyed it and I'm still loving it. It's given me the opportunity to compete in a Commonwealth Games and hopefully the next Paralympic Games." "I'm still pretty strong on the swim, just because of all the previous years I've had of just being a swimmer. The running has really come on over the last few years. I did athletics for a couple of years so that will have helped for that. My swim/run combination is pretty solid."

Ellis explained to us why this summer's Commonwealth Games could well be a unique event in his career. Quite simply, if Ellis doesn't win gold in Birmingham, he may never have the opportunity of a second chance to win this major honour. With the bonus of the event being a home Games, a Commonwealth gold medal would surely rank as one of his proudest achievements: "With para-events, you don't get to be part of the Commonwealth Games every time. Para-triathlon only has one category allocated for the Commonwealth Games normally, so this could be my only ever chance to compete at the Commonwealths. So it would be massive to win a gold medal here, especially with it being a home Games as well. There will be so much support, it'll be awesome. It'd be amazing to win at the Commonwealths." "The fact that friends and family will be there to attend in Birmingham will be great, considering that they've not been able to watch me race for the last couple of years because of Covid. Having the Commonwealth Games being held pretty much at your doorstep will be really nice. British fans always get right behind their athletes." In terms of the rest of his career, Ellis confirms that the next Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024 is the number one target to aim for and conquer: "So there were only three para-triathlon category events for Rio 2016. Luckily, this was increased to four in Tokyo and my PTVI category was allowed in. For Paris 2024, they've already announced that there will be six para-triathlon categories for the men and five for the women. So pretty much every category has been allocated for the next Paralympic Games. That's really nice that this has already been announced. So that means that Paris 2024 is definitely the big target for me for the future. I'd love to go there and get a medal. That would really top off the career." The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham begins on the 28th of July and finishes on the 8th of August. Other Derbyshire sports stars that are already confirmed to be joining Dave Ellis in Team England include the likes of swimmers Abbie Wood, Jacob Whittle and Imogen Clark.

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