Dave Henson is still ‘on top of the world’ after claiming Paralympic medal glory in Rio this summer.
But the 32-year-old, who trains at the Mounbatten Centre in Northern Parade, has revealed he is now considering his competitive future.
The double-amputee raced to a stunning T42 200m bronze medal in South America (24.74sec), with a strong sprint finish ensuring a podium place for the former army captain.
But the dad of one insists his young family and working life in amputee biomechanics have to be weighed up as he considers going for gold in Tokyo 2020.
He said: ‘I am still on top of the world.
‘There is still a side of me that is asking the question of whether it is real, whether it happened or not?
‘It still feels a little bit surreal!
‘I haven’t even caught up on all of the footage yet.
‘My own Paralympics experience before had been a case of watching it on TV and in my head that is what the Paralympics is.
‘But this time I didn’t watch it on TV, I was there, it was just bizarre.
‘It’s massively surreal, it will sink in one day I am sure.’
Henson had both legs amputated in 2011 after he stood on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan while serving with the Royal Engineers.
Five years later and he played his part in one of the finest days in GB Paralympics history – with team-mate Richard Whitehead retaining the gold medal he won at London 2012 in the same event.
A lot of time and effort will need to be undertaken if Henson is to usurp his mentor in Tokyo, though.
‘I love the sport and I want to keep going in athletics but everything comes down to time,’ he said.
‘I have a family and I am doing some quite remarkable things in my research away from the track.
‘If I was going to go forward in athletics I would want to be upgrading my medal colour.
‘I am a realistic person – it comes down to time.
‘I need to do an assessment of what my time commitment needs to be to get that gold medal in Tokyo 2020.
‘And if I can achieve it with the other things I am doing in my life then you will see me in Tokyo and I will be getting a gold medal!
‘But I just have to think things through and work out the plan properly – that is all.’
While it may not have truly sunk in as yet, Henson has had plenty of time to think through his efforts in Rio.
Entered in both the 100m and 200m races, the blade runner held out little hope in the quicker format – failing to make the final.
But it was in the 200m that he captured the attention of the nation, alongside Whitehead, overcoming a wobble in his semi-final heat and a slow start in the final to race into third place virtually on the line with a stunning sprint finish.
Henson added: ‘The story behind both of my 200m races – the heat where I had a wobble and the final where I came from behind – add value to the medal, for sure.
‘I had a stumble in the semi-final and it didn’t go as well as it could have.
‘I was conscious going into the final I had made those mistakes.
‘There is a little side of me that was just playing it safe a little bit and as a result I didn’t run the first half of my race as well as I knew I could do.
‘I know my start and my bend are the slowest parts of my race anyway but I was a little bit further behind than expected.
‘For me, the bit that makes me proud of myself was I held onto the belief I could come through at the end.
‘I pushed all the way to the line and it was only in the last metre that I actually managed to get it.
‘If it had been 195 metres I would have missed out!’
For modest Henson, it was a case of character coming to the fore.
He said: ‘I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but I think it was a bit of character strength that got me there.
‘I didn’t give up and I was quite chuffed with that.
‘If I had demonstrated that and finished fourth or fifth I would probably feel the same.
‘The fact I managed to push through for a bronze was mega!’