SportsAid is aiming to shine a spotlight on the next generation of household names across Great Britain….your local heroes! Our blog series, entitled ‘Inside My World’, will look to offer you an insight into the lives of the country’s most talented young athletes while also offering them the platform to express themselves to a wider audience.
This time....it’s Josh Bain, 24, from Feering in Essex. He is a para athlete, currently supported by Royal Bank of Canada through SportsAid, who competes in shot put, discus and javelin. He represented Team England at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games where he finished fifth in the F38 shot put. He is also a PhD student working at Loughborough University.
Here, Josh takes you into his world as he blogs about his equal passion for athletics and science, and how he is using his time wisely, including learning Japanese, during lockdown....
“I am used to having to be flexible and adaptable due to the demands of my athletics and my studies, and during this strange time I think it’s important to stay active and positive. A lot of us are in the same boat and it’s about doing what you can to make the best use of your time.
“I’m currently a PhD student working for the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University. My research involves the analysis of metabolites which have the potential to help in the prognosis of chronic kidney disease, which I balance alongside training as an elite athlete, as a member of Loughborough Students.
“Throughout my time in athletics I’ve always been in education so I’ve never really known anything different. Sport was never my strong point growing up as a disabled student in a mainstream school, but I attended a disability try-day when I was about eight and was asked to throw a cricket ball as far as I could. When it went flying over the field judge’s head I realised I’d found something I was good at.
“In those days there wasn’t a lot of information about what para sport was and it wasn’t until a few years later that I joined Chelmsford AC. In 2011, I went to the World Junior Games in Dubai and I think at that point I realised I could go somewhere in the sport, because I was competing internationally and my distances were improving drastically.
“Of my sporting achievements, getting a bronze medal in the F37 discus at the European Championships in 2016 is right up there, but the best moment has to be competing at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 where I came fifth in the F38 shot put.
“Throughout my career there have definitely been times when I’ve struggled to balance my work and sport. For example, during the last year of my chemistry degree - before the PhD - when I had lots of deadlines and I couldn’t really control the time I had to try and fit everything in.
“I struggled to switch off from my studies during that time because in my mind that was the most important thing in the world. I saw my throwing distances start to decrease a bit, and that’s perhaps why I haven’t done as well as I’d maybe hoped to in recent years.
“But throughout my time as an athlete I’ve had a lot of important support. My school and sixth form college - Honywood Community Science School, and the Sixth Form College, Colchester - always helped me so that I never got behind, and now I’m in a fortunate position where my PhD is like a 9-5 job so I can train around it. And being part of the sports science department means I’m surrounded by a sports environment.
“I have a passion for athletics, which is equal to the passion I have for science and learning. I find working on something that has the potential to really change lives very inspiring. It’s ground-breaking and cutting edge and I can see myself doing it for the rest of my life. I think I’ve learnt how to use my time efficiently now and it’s just about being as productive as possible when you’re working on a particular thing.
“I’m similarly determined to continue reducing the stigma attached to para sport, as well. The public perception of para sport has definitely improved since I first picked up that cricket ball, and Loughborough are playing a big part in that, but there is still more that can be done and I’m trying to use my experience to help increase the inclusivity and accessibility of sport to everyone.
“During the coronavirus pandemic, I’m staying in Loughborough with my girlfriend Anna. We managed to move some gym equipment into our house at the start of the outbreak, so I’m doing as much training as I can even though a lot of my plans for the next few months have gone out of the window.
"While that is disappointing, the delay of the Paralympics until next summer could in fact work in my favour. It was always going to be a long shot to qualify this summer, so the extra time may help me get a seat on the plane.
“I’ve started learning Japanese - not because of the Paralympics - although it might come in handy if I did manage to make the team. Anna and I have always thought that Japan is a fascinating country and we plan to go backpacking over there at some point in the next few years.
“I can’t go in the labs at the moment so my research has been affected, but some of the exams I was supposed to sit in class have just been moved online. Also, a lot of a PhD is about writing so I have plenty to keep me busy - I’ve written up about 10,000 words so far and there is plenty more to do!
“As frustrating as the current situation is, I think it’s important to think about the people most affected by coronavirus. Anna and I have signed up to a number of volunteering schemes to try and help the local community, whether that’s helping people with their shopping or checking that vulnerable people are OK. We’re trying to stay positive and I think using any of our extra time to help people in need is really important.”
Please keep an eye on SportsAid's website and social media channels - Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube - for more exclusive content from our currently supported athletes, their parents and guardians, and the charity's extensive alumni.