Judoka Peter Miles admits he has to pinch himself in amazement when he thinks about representing Team GB at next week’s Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.
After a remarkable 2013 that saw Miles win bronze at the World Cadet Championships in Miami, disaster struck as a broken elbow sustained in November meant seven months on the sidelines.
Ever the optimist, the 18-year-old used the time out to focus solely on his studies but now he is back in action and facing the biggest challenge of his career.
His World Championship exploits helped him secure a spot on Team GB’s 33-strong squad for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing – something Miles was not expecting.
“It was a shock because I knew that to qualify I would have to medal at the World Championships which is something I never thought I would do,” he said.
“That was an amazing feeling because I went there and didn’t really expect much so to come away with a medal was incredible.
“The injury then kept me out for seven months which was a big blow but I guess it gave me time to focus on my studies a bit more which kept my mind off it.
“But I’ve been back for two months now and I feel like I am pretty much back to my best just in time for Nanjing.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for me to medal because I’ll be fighting in the weight above my usual one.
“So that’s going to be a big mountain to climb but if I can make it into the top eight I’ll be really happy.”
The chance to compete in Asia is something that means a lot to Miles given martial arts’ long history in the continent.
And the Games will not only give the youngster the chance to sample a little Olympic flavour but will hopefully serve as a precursor for Tokyo 2020.
“I went to the European Youth Olympic Festival and that gave me so much motivation and I really thought that this is what I want to do when I am older,” he added.
“So the real target for me now is to get to the Olympics in 2020 which will be in Japan.
“Obviously that’s a really exciting prospect because it is the home of judo so I need to keep working hard to make it there.
“This gives me the chance to see how being a part of Team GB at a games works and that experience is going to be invaluable.”
© Sportsbeat 2014