SHELLY Woods has never lacked any motivation to go for gold for Great Britain, but the St Annes-based Paralympian has been inspired like never before in recent weeks.
On the eve of her first race at London 2012, the 26-year-old wheelchair racer says Team GB’s fabulous feats in the Olympics have increased her desire for a first Paralympic gold medal even more.
Tomorrow (Friday) morning brings the 5000m heats and the first of a possible seven races in 10 days for Woods as she bids to add to the silver (1500m) and bronze (5000m) she won at the Beijing Games four years ago.
And Woods won’t be short of inspiration, having joined the rest of the nation in delighting in GB’s Olympic feats.
Woods said: “The Olympics were incredible. My favourite was Super Saturday, when GB won six golds, including Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah.
“It was just about the most amazing day’s sport I’ve ever seen and it was truly inspiring.”
But the world 1500m record holder is not convinced the nation’s Olympic glory puts pressure on herself and her fellow Paralympians to succeed in London.
She said: “I’ve prepared the best I can and it’s all about giving the best performance you possibly can.
“If you get a medal, that’s great, but what matters is that I’ve done all I can to achieve the best possible results. I know I’ll be able to give of my best over the coming days.
“In Beijing I was deligthed to win those two medals and it’s my ultimate dream to win a gold.
“I know I’m in good shape. I couldn’t have trained any better and now I just have to make sure I’m sharp when it comes to the races.”
Woods does not worry about over-reaching herself by contesting four events: the 800m, 1500m, 5000m and finally the marathon on the last day of the games (Sunday week).
“I did the same four last time and I had a rerun in the 5000 metres (in which she originally finished second only for the race to be restaged because of a multi-wheelchair crash on the home straight), so I know how tough it is. I know you have to be tough mentally as well as physically.
“I could have had two on the same day, so the scheduling could be worse. There’s also a day off between between the longer races.”
Having dominated this year’s London Marathon, Woods would love a Paralympic medal in this most gruelling of events, having been edged into fourth in Beijing.
She adds: “The marathon is probably my strongest event and the 800m is my weakest, but I’ve prepared well for them all in training because they do all complement each other, so it should be fun.”
And whatever happens over the next 10 days, Woods knows one of her dreams will come true.
“After the games I’ll finally get to go on honeymoon! Chris and I didn’t get the chance of a proper holiday after we got married last year because of my training schedule, so we’re going to Mauritius.” Hopefully with a medal or two in the suitcase.