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Sheikh hoping to be star of future

PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 April 2017

Wheelchair athlete Sheikh Sheikh will receive funding from Royal Bank of Canada in partnership with SportsAid (pic Sportsbeat/Roberto Payne)

Wheelchair athlete Sheikh Sheikh will receive funding from Royal Bank of Canada in partnership with SportsAid (pic Sportsbeat/Roberto Payne)

© Sportsbeat/Roberto Payne

Wheelchair athlete boosted by Royal Bank of Canada and SportsAid funding

From specialising in the sprint events, to taking part in the Virgin Money London Marathon, any distance goes for Wembley wheelchair racer Sheikh Sheikh in his bid for the top.

The T54 athlete normally competes across 100m, 200m and 400m, but is making a rather noticeable step up in distance later this month, with 26.2miles his race of choice through the capital on April 23.

Sheikh will be taking part in the London Marathon just after being selected for a prestigious partnership, picked out as a potential star of the future.

The 21-year-old is one of 50 athletes chosen to receive financial assistance and mentoring from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in partnership with SportsAid, with this his fourth year of being supported by the charity.

Now with a big year on his mind, Sheikh is hopeful that a chance to focus solely on his racing can bring out the best of his abilities, first putting himself to the test in the London Marathon.

“I have some big plans for this year with the London Marathon coming up, a few local and international races and then I have to try and qualify for the World Championships which are in London, which is very exciting,” he said.

“When I started competing I won the London Mini Marathon four times and now I want to step it up from there.

“I love the route and the whole atmosphere of the London Marathon, so I want to take it on and challenge myself and put myself through the paces and see how I cope.

“It’s going to be difficult, but it always is the first time you do something new. After a couple of times I’m sure I’ll find it easier than how it is going to be this year.

“I’m aiming for a time of less than two hours, maybe one hour 55 minutes. Hopefully I’ll get it, but if not I’ll have completed the race and that’s the most important part.”

Sheikh’s cause will be now helped by the support he will receive from RBC and SportsAid with an annual £1,000 award contributing to costs such as travel, accommodation and equipment.

This year’s RBC athletes stretch across 31 disabled and non-disabled disciplines with the individuals having been nominated to SportsAid by their sport’s national governing bodies.

And Sheikh has certainly been one to show his credentials, working hard to avenge the disappointment of missing out on a place at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games by just 0.15s in the T54 100m.

“Going into the year we’re focused on the track so I’ll be able to swiftly return to form for the track season, and hopefully I’ll be getting PBs across the year,” he continued.

“Last year was an incredible year, I got PBs in all my events, moved up the rankings which was very good and came very close to my selection times, which just fuels me to get better and stronger.

“Last season I wanted to go under 15 seconds for the 100m, and I ran 14.89s, so this year I’m aiming for 14.40, while for the 200m I want to break the 26-second barrier.

“In the 400m I want to go under 50, so hopefully 48 or 49, but I’ll take anything that comes because I’ll always be performing at my very best.

“Just the fact you are recognised by SportsAid as an up-and-coming athlete with potential shows that you have something special in you, and to have them supporting you and pushing you throughout the years is incredible.”

*Royal Bank of Canada, one of the largest banks in the world and Canada’s largest bank by market capitalization, partners with SportsAid to provide financial support, ongoing mentoring and deserved recognition to 50 young talented British athletes looking to fulfil their sporting ambitions.

For more information, please visit rbc.com.

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