'Dangerous Dave' Phillipsons Paralympic Campaign Continues28 Jul 2020
Meet Dangerous Dave Phillipson; a formidable, Nottingham based, three-time Paralympian in tennis who took to the water in 2017 and is now paracanoeing his way to Tokyo 2021.
Where it all began
Always having a passion for sport, Dave was involved in both tennis and basketball from a young age. After qualifying for GB Basketball, his coach recommended he choose just one to pursue and this is where his tennis career began. In 2008, Dave became the number 1 ranked player in Great Britain for wheelchair tennis. Going from strength to strength Dave made his Paralympic debut in Beijing before going on to also compete in the London and Rio Games. Unfortunately, 2016 also saw Dave contract a wrist injury which created an air of uncertainty about where to take his career next.
“That injury spurred a lot of umming and arring about what to do next, whether to stay, retire or move sports. I didn’t want to stop doing sport, I wanted to do something different. Canoeing came up in conversation and it was quite a new sport, plus the National Water Sports Centre is only 15 mins down the road from me and it’s a great facility to perform at. The guys offered me the chance to come down and give it a go and it just went from there really.”
Canoeing wasn’t an entirely new entity for Dave, he did it as a recreational sport in his younger years and has always liked water sports. Speaking about it, Dave said “I think it suits my training needs, it certainly suits how I like to train.”
All you need to know about competitive paracanoeing
The paracanoe classification system was first created by the International Paralympic Committee to assist with eligibility and sports class allocation. It was subsequently amended in 2015 ahead of the sports inclusion in the 2016 Rio Paralympics Game. Changes included renaming the different classes. The 3 classifications are KL1, KL2 and KL3, competitors are assigned to each category depending on the severity of their disability .
In terms of events, there are three major competitions in the year; The European Championships, The World Cup and the World Championships. Usually, the Europeans and the World Cup run in the same week, followed by the World Championships later in the summer. Athletes typically then spend the majority of the winter training. Monthly national regattas run between March and September at Holme Pierrepont (the National Water Sports Centre) in the UK, providing a great opportunity for supporters to keep up to date with athletes’ progress.
Covid-19 and the Tokyo Paralympics
Exactly four years on from Rio 2016, 2020 was due to see the return of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Having spent the last few years training, we spoke with Dave about how the Codiv-19 pandemic has affected his training specifically and the canoeing season in general -
“Well, it’s basically thrown the whole season out the window! 2020 being the Paralympic year means it’s the biggest year for us in terms of qualifying and competing. I was due to race in April, which would have been the qualifier for both the World Championships and the Paralympics. With the lockdown that of course didn’t go ahead.
As the Covid situation escalated, the decision was taken to move the Paralympics to next year. I guess we’re lucky that the Paras were moved to the end of August 2021 rather than cancelled. On the bright side, it gives me another year to train hard, it gives me another winter. It wasn’t just the Games that were cancelled though, the whole season was for us. It’s all about retraining for next season now.”
Dangerous Dave makes a splash
Dangerous Dave proved that he’s even more dangerous by nature when he became the reigning European Champion in the men's VL3 200m race in Belgrade in only his second season of International racing. Other career highlights include 3rd place in the VL3 200m race at World Cup 1 in Szeged in 2018 and 4th in the VL3 200m race in Montemor O Velho .
By no means slowing down from here, Dave’s 2020 goals were to qualify again in VL3 for the World Championships and the Paralympics, as well as also qualifying in the KL2 spot for the Paralympics. Achieving these goals would have afforded Dave two opportunities to race at the Paralympics and thus two opportunities to medal. Speaking about this, Dave said -
“They are still my goals, just for next year now instead. I think that if I’m able to qualify for the Paralympics, I think I’d get a medal. Which one, I don’t know, I’d be happy with any of them to be fair. I’ve done 3 Paralympics but not got a medal yet. So, I think this time if I make it there, I’ve got a real shot and feel in a good position that I would medal.”
Albumedix continue to sponsor and support Dave in his tireless pursuit of a Paralympic medal. If you would like to join in our backing, you can learn more about his upcoming races by visiting British Canoeing or Planet Canoe.