March 5, 2021

British Championships: Dan Greaves back after ‘excruciating’ injury

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Discus thrower Dan Greaves
Greaves won gold in the discus at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens
Venue: Manchester Regional Arena Dates: 4-5 September
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two from 18:00-21:00 on Friday and on BBC One from 13:15-16:30 on Saturday; follow live text coverage on the BBC Sport website and app.

Five-time Paralympic medallist Dan Greaves says his athletics career could have been ended by an “excruciating” bone bruise in his leg.

Discus thrower Greaves started having problems last summer and missed the Para-athletics World Championships.

However, rest and rehab have allowed the injury to improve considerably.

“Had it not settled down, I would have needed an operation which would have wiped out 2020 and most of 2021,” the 37-year-old told BBC Sport.

“The problem was at the top of my femur near my hip joint.

“I’ve had to retrain that part of my body and work hard on building up strength to try to make it more stable.”

The improvement in the injury and the postponement of the Tokyo Paralympics to 2021 have been a huge boost to Greaves, who will compete on Saturday at the British Championships in Manchester.

Born with the foot condition talipes, also known as club foot, Greaves has become one of the GB team’s most experienced competitors since making his debut at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, going on to win world, European and Commonwealth titles.

But 20 years of throwing the 1.5kg discus at the top level have taken their toll on his body.

“My hips take a lot of pounding so this was the worst injury I could have,” he added.

“I’d had issues with my lower back and my knees in the past, but never anything in my hip.

“At first I just thought it was joint-related and maybe age-related. It didn’t affect me when I was throwing, but afterwards the area was achy and tender.

Dan Greaves during lockdown
During lockdown, Greaves was able to continue his training at a local rugby club in Loughborough

“It is almost as bad as a fracture. You have to let it settle down. There is no real treatment but to rest, get injections around it to let the hip relax and build it back up again.

“I’ve had to be a lot more careful around this injury than with others in the past, because I know I’m not the youngest and it could have ended my career, but also had an impact on my life after athletics.”

‘The injury has empowered me to push on’

After the British Championships, Greaves is aiming to get a full winter’s training, something he missed out on going into 2020, as he tries to recapture the 2018 form which saw him set a new personal best of 63.01m in Manchester and win the Para-athletics European title in Berlin.

While Greaves will compete against non-disabled rivals who throw the heavier 2kg discus in Manchester, there are also some Paralympic-only events on the programme for the first time, giving the likes of wheelchair racers Hannah Cockroft and Sammi Kinghorn and sprinters Sophie Hahn and Maria Lyle a chance to compete.

“It is massive progress for the sport to have a selection of Para-athletics races,” says Greaves. “Hopefully the performances will be strong and in the future more events will be included.

“For me, something around 58 or 59m would be good, but it is more about trying to put things together before the winter.”

“Someone reminded me that I said Rio would be my last Games but at nearly 36 I set a PB and it has given me a new lease of life and showed me I wasn’t done yet.

“My dream is to throw 65m, be one of the best throwers in my event and get a sixth medal at a sixth Games. The injury has empowered me to push on and try to make sure that happens.”