Sprinter with huge target on his back

The last time he competed in the Games arena he took the world by surprise, a gold medal and his pet event by an extraordinary seven seconds. Now he’s back for round two in a different event.

There’s nothing like a bit of twin rivalry to get the juices flowing.

In James Turner’s case, it has given him the hunger to succeed in sport.

Turner, one of the stars of the Australian athletics team competing at the Paralympics, reckons he wouldn’t be the athlete he is today if it were not for his sister Hayley.

“I always loved sport, have always loved running,” said Turner, who grew up at Hallidays Point near Taree before moving to Wollongong, then Huntley’s Point and eventually Canberra to train with a top squad.

“I’ve also always been quite competitive with my twin. She is able-bodied so it’s a losing battle.

“But it helped me try harder, helped me to be the athlete I am today.”

And that athlete has big goals at his second Paralympic Games after bursting onto the scene in Rio with gold in the T36 800m by seven seconds.

He then followed up this staggering performance with gold in the 200m, 400m and 800m at the 2017 world championships and gold in the 100m and 400m at the 2019 world titles.

With the 800m cut from the athletes program in Tokyo, Turner, who has cerebral palsy, is focusing his efforts on 100m and 400m success.

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“I feel like I’m in good form. I’ve had good people to train with,” said the 26-year-old five-time world champion who works under Ukrainian coach Iryna Dvoskina and alongside the likes of medal hopes Vanessa Low, Evan O’Hanlon, Scott Reardon and Chad Perris.

“It’s a real power group, very professional group.

“I’d like to get gold medals and world records in the 100m and 400m in Tokyo.

“I don’t want that to sound like I’m being big headed but you have to have big challenges and big goals.”

In total 179 Australian athletes are competing in Tokyo with athletics, swimming and cycling expected to produce the lions share of the medals.

The athletics team is 36 strong and boasts nine debutantes alongside veteran Christie Dawes who is competing at her seventh Paralympics.


Originally published as Tokyo Paralympics: James Turner has target on back after Rio sting

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