Derek Rae eyeing 2020 Games after Rio disappointment

Derek RaeDerek Rae
Derek Rae
Derek Rae has vowed to come back stronger after seeing his Paralympic medal dreams dashed by the Rio heat.

The Kirkcaldy runner was in fourth place approaching the 30km mark in the T46 marathon in the final day of the Games on Sunday when he had to withdraw.

After doing most of his Rio preparation on the somewhat cooler streets of his home town, Rae admitted that the 35 degree heat and 85 per cent humidity in Brazil caught him by surprise.

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“The heat and humidity just absolutely obliterated me on the day,” he told the Press. “In sport, lessons are sometimes learned the hard way, it’s just unfortunate that mine was on the biggest stage that I could possibly be on.

“At the minute, it’s still a raw wound and it’s still cutting me up, but the quicker you can try to forget about it, move on and use it as a character strengthener, the more you’re going to succeed.

“I’m not one for letting things get to me, but I think it will hang over me for a little while yet.

“I went out in the best shape I’ve ever been in - physically and mentally. Even the day of the race, I got warmed up and I was excited for it, I was ready to run it.

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“I had a great feeling about it but when I got to the half marathon, the bolts and the wheels were starting to loosen. By 15 miles the wheels were hanging off.

“It was the toughest race I’ve ever run in. I maybe could’ve prepared better for the heat and humidity but there was only one way I was going to learn that.

“As a team we’ll definitely move on from it, and we’ll use it as a motivator and strengthener.

“I said to the head coach after the race that I’ll bounce back from this. I’ve had bigger knock downs than this and came back.

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“Life’s full of stumbling blocks and this is just a bigger block than usual.

“I’m lucky that I’ve got a really good support team around me and we’re all in it together.

“We’ll analyse things, assess where it went wrong, and plan for the future.”

While the race did not go according to plan, Rae revealed that the experience of competing in the Paralympics was beyond his expectations.

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“The whole trip, from the minute I left Edinburgh, to when I returned, exceeded my expectations, and then some,” he said.

“The whole village life, the atmosphere, the guys I was sharing a flat with, the buzz around Team GB and the athletics was phenomenal.

“It’s an experience that money can’t buy and I’ve learned a lot of things that I’ll never forget. The whole team was like a big family. I was worried about going late, if I was going to be an outsider coming in, but they accepted me with open arms, which made it a lot easier.”

Rae has already set his sights on competing in the next Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020.

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“It’s certainly something well be working towards,” he said. “There’s a lot more to come up beforehand, but in athletics there’s always a big goal that oversee all others, and thoughts are already on the 2020 Games.

“I don’t want to leave anything to chance now. I know what we could’ve done for Rio, so we’ll all sit down together, my physio and my coaches, put our thoughts on the table and work out a plan.”

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