Australia’s Curtis McGrath has said he feels well prepared for this year’s International Canoe Federation Para-canoe World Championships in Račice, which are scheduled to begin on Wednesday (August 23) - exactly five years after the Army veteran stepped on a homemade landmine in Afghanistan and had both his legs blown off.
McGrath won the men's KL2 200 metres race during canoeing's Paralympic debut at last year's Games in Rio de Janeiro and was chosen to carry the Australian flag at the Closing Ceremony.
As well as his victory at Rio 2016, the 29-year-old also claimed the KL2 and VL2 200m gold medals at last year's Para-canoe World Championships in German city Duisburg.
In February, he became the first Para-athlete to win the Sportsman of the Year prize at the World Paddle Awards.
The award recognises the greatest contribution to any paddle sport in excellence and performance.
"Life post Rio has been really busy, but I have tried to keep it balanced with training and other engagements," McGrath said.
"It’s been tricky, but I think I have prepared well for the World Championships this year.
"I had a lot of requests for speaking and invitations to events which have been great but it has taken me away from training.
"It was hard to get back into training.
"The body was enjoying not waking up sore and tired, to only do it all again the next morning.
"I think I am lucky I get the opportunity to compete in a sport I enjoy.
"That does make it easier."
McGrath is looking forward to continuing his rivalry with Austria’s Markus Swoboda in Račice, a village in the Ústí nad Labem region of Czech Republic.
Swoboda finished runner-up to the Australian at Rio 2016 and last year’s World Championships in the KL2 event.
"Račice will be an interesting regatta," McGrath said.
"I’ve never been at a World Championships in a post-Olympic year.
"So, I expect some upsets.
"I hope that I can continue to be ahead of my competitors, but I know everyone has been working really hard.
"Markus Swoboda has shown he still has great speed and I believe he will be the one to watch in Račice.
"I almost feel as though I have a target on my back now."