30 April 2009
Welsh T54 wheelchair athlete Dan Lucker is certainly making a name for himself in disability sport. Twice winner of the adidas London Mini-Marathon, in 2008 he beat Paralympic athlete Mickey Bushell and this year set a new course record of 12.30.
Despite his young age, the magnitude of the Flora London Marathon has not escaped this switched-on sixteen year old athlete: “London is always a great race because of the media attention it receives and the crowds that turn up to support the athletes. It was a bit daunting the first time I did the race as I was only 12 but if I’m honest I love it now. I always like to hang around after my race as well and wait for the elite men’s wheelchair race to finish. The speed at which they come across the line is pretty mind blowing – I’ll be there one day.“
He is certainly on the right track to emulate Great Britain & Northern Ireland’s top wheelchair man four times 2008 Beijing Paralympic medalist David Weir. Last Year Lucker was under 16 Junior World Champion over 1500m and 5000m, UK School Games 100m Gold Medalist and DSE National Junior U17Gold Medalist over six disciplines.
He has come a long way since he began athletics:
“My first taste of athletics was at a Wheelchair sports spectacular held in Cardiff. There were a lot of sports to try out. I had a chat with Anthony Hughes, the performance manager for disability sport Wales and he suggested giving racing a go – I did and haven’t wanted to do any other sports since.
“When I first started racing it was more recreational sport than anything. I didn’t have a coach and would just go and push around the track a couple of times a week. It was when I met Chris Hallam and he stared coaching me that things began to change.”
After some crucial changes to chair position and pushing technique Lucker’s fitness improved and his times began to improve: “It was only then that I began to realise I could be quite good at the sport. If anyone had told me when I first started that I would be doing this well now - I wouldn’t have believed them!”
When he’s not dominating the podium at domestic age group competitions he balances a normal teenage life with racing: “I’ve got my GCSE exams in a couple of weeks now so to be honest it’s school and wheelchair racing at the moment with not very much time left for anything else. When I do have the time I like to meet up with friends, play PlayStation – just normal stuff really.”
2009 began well for Lucker, he was named as a Champion Ambassador for the UK School Games and offered a place on the 2009 UKA Heroes Project supported by Original Source which gives up and coming athletes financial support. Overwhelmed by these accolades he now knows he has to maintain his winning form on the track.
He said: “My first track competition will be this Sunday 3rd May which are the British Wheelchair Racing Association nationals, following that it will be the Bupa Great Manchester Run on the 17th.”
The highlight of his year though will come at the IWAS Junior World Championship in Switzerland 15-19th July: “This year I will be competing at U18 level and hope to do as well as I did last year after becoming U16s junior world champion at the 1500m and 5000m.”