Hollie Arnold wasn’t even expecting her F46 javelin event to be part of the World Para Athletics European Championships – now it’s helped her complete the Grand Slam.
The Welsh athlete was already a Paralympic, world and Commonwealth champion but added European gold to her unmatchable collection – throwing her way to a record-breaking performance.
Never before had 40 metres been thrown in this event but Arnold rewrote the history books with her final effort on Monday, already draped in the British flag by the time she saw 40.15m appear on the screen.
“I am so happy to have all the titles now,” she said. “It’s incredible to think I am Paralympic champion, world champion, world record holder and now European champion.
“I wasn’t expecting the Europeans to be in because my event is not normally there, so this is a bonus.
“This is just a stepping stone ready for next year and Tokyo. I am so excited to get knuckling down for winter training.
“My coach, Dave Turner, has been supporting me through my ups and downs and before this competition we were like ‘we’re not ready’ but this just proves that it is still there and I am really excited for the next upcoming events.”
Competing on the first day means Arnold’s time in the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark was over quicker than most as she secured Britain’s first field gold of the week-long event.
But she’ll head back home with a spring in her step and then some, with all eyes on Tokyo 2020 and the Paralympic Games as she looks to defend her gold medal from Rio.
The 24-year-old is far from alone in her bid for glory either, wasting little time in revelling in a lap of honour in Germany as a few familiar faces joined her in celebration.
“My mum, dad and boyfriend are all here and I think it is really special to be able to celebrate with your family and to give them a big hug because they are a massive part of my life,” added Arnold, who was born without her right forearm.
“They moved all the way from Wales for me for six or seven years so massive credit to them – I love them all to pieces.
“I am just so happy I have done it now and I can have a little bit of a rest and then we are straight back into winter training because we need to get ready for the next few years.
“I feel kind of old in the sport now because I have been doing it for ten years and I am only 24, but every time you compete you have different experiences from each event.”
Even for an athlete as medal-laden as Arnold, new experiences are still forthcoming in javelin after missing out on a home event four years ago.
But it’s the enjoyment that comes with each and every throw that means the most on the field.
She concluded: “I have never had the experience of winning at a Europeans before, my event got taken out in Swansea 2014.
“I was so looking forward to compete, I was ready and in shape, so coming out here was an extra bonus and I thought ‘I’m here, why not enjoy it’ and try and get the crowd going and just go for it.”
British Athletics works alongside UK Sport and the National Lottery to support the delivery of success at the world’s most significant sporting events, principally the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They do this via the funded initiative, the World Class Programme, one part of the British Athletics pathway.