Paralympian Hollie Arnold: Forget ‘I’m a Celebrity’, it’s all about winning gold in Tokyo
Team GB’s Hollie Arnold is feeling ‘mentally’ strong as she prepares to defend her Paralympic javelin title at Tokyo this summer.
Despite the 26 year-old already being a Paralympic champion, a four-time world champion and a European champion in the F-46 discipline, she is certainly not ready to quit and is constantly looking ahead to the next big event in the athletics calendar.
The Welsh star, who recently appeared on ITV’s 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’, is however humble despite her achievements to date and describes herself as a ‘normal’ person.
Arnold, who was born without a right forearm, told NewsChain: “I want to come out (of Tokyo) defending my Paralympic champion status and to put that world record out of reach.
"I want more, people say to me ‘you’ve won the Paralympics, what’s next?’ and I say ‘it’s the next world championships and the next Europeans’.
"I’ve probably not had a life of a normal 26 year-old, in the younger days when people go out and enjoy parties, I didn’t get to do everything like that, but I think sometimes the gold medals are a replacement.
“You only have one life and you have to live it to its full capacity. I guess that has always been my attitude.
“Even though people think I am really strong, I’m emotional, I’m vulnerable, I’m a normal person and I’m just me.”
In March last year the Olympic and Paralympic Games, due to take place this summer, were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Arnold, who lives in Loughborough, felt she was ‘on the right track’ physically but feels the delay has given her ‘mental strength’.
She said: "Maybe mentally I’m better placed going in (this) year but I think physically I was ready to go out there (last year) and I was right on track.
"But we’ve had to adapt and I think my coach Dave (Turner) knew I needed a bit of time, just getting my head around and coming back to a really good mental place with training because I’ve done it for so long and it’s been all my life.
"Sometimes it’s hard to do my job every single day. You are constantly thinking about training or constantly criticising yourself or how you look, or how your technique is, or what can you do to make this better, I’m so bad at doing that.
“I don’t feel like I’ve gained time but I’ve gained mental strength.”
For several athletes, they would have had the Commonwealth Games in 2022 in Birmingham to look forward to after the Olympics and Paralympics.
But Arnold’s event has been cut from the schedule, despite the 2022 Games set to have the largest ever female and para-sport programme in history.
Having won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, she is ‘disappointed’ not to be competing.
She said: "I’m really sad and I know it’s really hard to fit every single person’s event in.
"For it to be a home games in Birmingham, I was just really disappointed and I don’t know what we can do.
“Apart from me not being in it, it’s amazing that we’ve got a lot more females in there.”
And she is passionate about female athletes, and especially female throwers, needing to be showcased more.
She said: "You know we don’t get enough coverage, you might see one person’s throw and they will skip to another person’s throw and I know it’s so hard and there’s so little time with everything going on the track at the same time.
"I feel like there’s kind of a pecking order and it goes male sprinters, female sprinters and the same in the Paras, a lot of wheelchair races get some coverage then you get a little bit of throwing.
“We are getting there but we do all have to battle for time. But it would be amazing if we could have an equal time of the throwers and the sprinters."
She wants even more people to learn and see para-athletes and their disabilities.
“I would rather people ask me about my arm. I don’t see myself as an inspiration at all and I don’t like to be called a superhuman because I’m not,” she added.
"But if I can get people to look at me differently and see that I just get on with it and I’m not bothered about my disability.
"For people to have more insightfulness about what Paralympians do, their day-to-day training and what they have to sacrifice. Having more filming when we are in training camps and what we get up to.
"People think that I’m fine when I get out to compete but I’m actually a nervous wreck.
"I have anxiety through the roof and my stomach is in knots and then as soon as I step onto the track, it’s game face.
"I would love to bring out a book or a documentary for people to engage a bit more as it’s taken me so long to get to where I am.
“I think to be honest people need to see more of that and if I get an opportunity to do that then I certainly will.”