Norwich para-skier Sam Cozens is using next summer’s Paralympics as motivation for his own sporting ambitions, writes Sportsbeat's Milly McEvoy.
The 17-year-old from Hethersett is working towards representing Great Britain at the 2026 Winter Paralympics in Milano-Cortina and will be eagerly following the summer Games in Paris which are just one year away.
Cozens grew up playing football before switching to para skiing with great success and believes he is right on track to make his Paralympic dreams a reality.
“Growing up, I always just watched the Olympics,” he said. “And I always thought it was cool how people represent their country, which is ideally what I want to do.
“But watching the Paralympics, and particularly the Winter Paralympics, I thought it was really impressive.
The UK’s fourth-largest supermarket, Aldi, has entered into the second year of its Rising Stars programme with SportsAid by announcing the 18 talented young athletes receiving support in 2023.
Each athlete on the programme is provided with funding to help towards costs such as… pic.twitter.com/jiSUXpVK3w
— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) July 27, 2023
“Like how they make adaptations to just make everything work. So in skiing, all the amputees will either be sitting down or they'll have adapted poles with skis on them.
“Paris 2024 is probably going to be quite a big motivation for me because they're all very, very physically fit people and it does encourage me to be like that.
“I don't think it will take much more for me to get to the Paralympics because they already want me on the team.
“To get to the Paralympics, I think it would be the same as I am doing now, lots of training, trying to get as much training as I can on snow and out of snow as well.”
Cozens has put a knee injury picked up in February firmly behind him and recently spent time in Landgraaf in the Netherlands, training on snow.
The City College student competes in the visually impaired category with guide Adam Hall – but the two are usually separated by hundreds of miles with Hall based in Aberdeen, meaning that on-snow training sessions are precious.
He is now working towards a return to Resterhöhe in Austria, where last year he claimed a bronze medal in the men’s slalom VI.
SportsAid was delighted to bring together over 40 talented young athletes, along with their parents and guardians, for a very special summer event at @RBC’s Bishopsgate offices in London this afternoon!#SportsAidLive acted as the perfect opportunity for… pic.twitter.com/dcHXo5ExSq
— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) August 10, 2023
Cozens finished only behind the reigning Paralympic and world champion Giacomo Bertagnolli and world silver medallist Johannes Aigner, and is currently ranked seventh in the world.
“My biggest achievement to date was a bronze medal I won last November as I raced against the world champions,” added Cozens, who has been selected to be part of Aldi’s Rising Stars programme, an initiative with SportsAid that provides talented young athletes with financial support, recognition and personal development opportunities.
“It was really good because that was my first ever race abroad and I managed to do that which I didn't really expect to happen.
“My next race is in November, it will be the same race as last year, likely against the same people too.
“I just want to medal again, that is all I really want. I want to be number one in the world too.”
Aldi is the Official Supermarket Partner of Team GB and ParalympicsGB and have partnered with Team GB since 2015, ParalympicsGB since 2022 and will be supporting them through to Paris 2024.