ROB OLIVER ‘lost the plot’ at Rio 2016 and is desperate to banish his Paralympic demons in Tokyo this summer.

The Yardley Wood ace was officially selected as one of eight paracanoeists heading to Japan after finishing fifth in the men's KL3 in Brazil five years ago.

Oliver, 33, has medalled at four separate European Championships and insists he’s eager to lay the ghosts of his previous Games firmly to rest.

“I would like to do better than I did in Rio,” said Oliver, one of over 1,000 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme.

“Although the field is as, if not more, competitive as it was back then, it will be more difficult.

“I just want to be up there with the top guys, and not mess up on the day. If I do the best race I can do, I’ll be happy and then see where the land lies.

"I was a novice to Paralympics back then [in 2016] and I am not ashamed to admit, I lost the plot.

“I couldn’t deal with the anxiety of it and the overwhelming nature of this huge sporting occasion.

“I am five years older now, and I definitely feel in a much better place to go out there and bring home a medal.”

Oliver and his fellow squad members are able to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support through UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme.

He will now have the chance to turn his European success into a Paralympic glory after putting in the hard yards throughout the last year.

He’s feeling in the best shape of his career and added: “When we first went into lockdown, I bought every piece of gym equipment I could possibly get my hands on, and had it all in the shed at the bottom of my garden.

“So I am actually stronger now than when we first went into lockdown.

“It probably helps just being able to train at home, as well as with the team. I have been able to spend more time with the family, despite training just as hard.

“That has helped me get rid of a lot of the stress and anxiety.”

In peak condition, both physically and mentally, it feels like anything is possible for the West Midlands star. So can he deliver a gold for ParalympicsGB?

Even in a highly-competitive field, Oliver is not ruling anything out.

He will be hoping to add to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won by Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997 and said: “We’re all in the top six and on the day, you could be in a medal position or last, anything could happen. It is that competitive, it only takes two bad strokes and you know you are out of it that day.

“You just have to hope you get a good run on the day, and are on the right edge of the luck.”

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