ROSS PATERSON is so devoted to his athletics that he only allows himself one day off a week. It is not a coincidence, however, that the Paisley sprinter’s day of rest just so happens to be a Saturday.

“Me and my dad are St Mirren season ticket holders so we go to the games home and away when we can,” he revealed. “This season it’s obviously just been watching on the telly but hopefully we’ll get back inside stadiums soon as I really miss it. So that’s the only day I don’t train. The rest of the week is pretty much full-on.”    

Like everyone else, 2020 was a challenging year for the T38 athlete but out of the wreckage emerges fresh opportunity.

The 22 year-old, who has cerebral palsy that affects the right-hand side of his body, now eyes up what could be a career-defining year, with the re-arranged World Para Athletics European Championships set to be rearranged from last June as well as the chance to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

Then there is the dangling carrot of a potential place at the delayed Paralympics. Paterson was one of six Scottish athletes to be included recently on the British Athletics Paralympics Futures Academy programme, with a view to making it to Paris in 2024.

The Red Star athlete, however, now wonders whether it might be possible to achieve that lifelong goal three years early by making it to Tokyo in August.

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“I’ve got a big busy year ahead,” adds the 100m, 200m and 400m runner. “I had a Zoom call with GB recently to go over my year plan and a lot of things have been brought forward after all the cancellations. So it’s going to be hectic but it gives me a lot to work towards hopefully.

“I’ve been discussing it with my coaches and there’s a feeling that if I work hard then there’s no reason why Tokyo shouldn’t be in my thoughts.

“With the year we’ve just had nobody knows how it’s going to impact athletics. It would be an absolute bonus if I got selected and it’s something to aim for.

“The European Championships had been my main target for 2020 so I’ll push for that again in the summer, and the Commonwealth Games is a big one for me too.

“The last year has been strange but it’s definitely not been a waste. I’ve been doing a lot more training and preparing for what lies ahead.”

The 2018 European silver medallist has been training with able-bodied athletes from Kilbarchan AAC at the renovated outdoor facility at the Onyx in Linwood in a bid to improve standards even more.

“I just felt I needed something to push me on a bit more,” he explains. “They were a lot faster than me at the start but it meant I could work on gradually picking them off.

“So at the start they were maybe 10 seconds quicker than me over 400m and I’ve managed to get that down bit by bit.

“The guys have all been brilliant with me. I’ve been training in particular with Stephen Johnston who’s only 17 years old but he’s lightning quick which has been great for me.”

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Paterson, who combines his athletics with a full-time job as an early years practitioner at a Johnstone nursery, is an easy one to spot on the start line.

His right-arm long sleeve helps with the CP, while the ubiquitous sunglasses are there to block out all distractions.

“I have hemiplegia which means I have a lack of strength, balance, control and coordination affecting the right-hand side of my body,” he adds. “In the winter especially my body tends to cramp up a fair bit so I need to wear lots of layers.

“I’ve always worn the sleeve as the tightness makes my right arm aware that it’s there. When I was a baby I had a glove in a sleeve to bring my arm down as it was right up at my shoulder.

"My mum and dad and the physio had to work with me to bring it down when I was at primary school, stretching my fingers out and doing all sorts of exercises to get it working. I can’t thank my parents enough for all that hard work.

“The sunglasses are there just to keep me focused. I got my inspiration from Martyn Rooney [Olympic 400m runner] who I saw wearing them and I’ve copied that. It keeps me in the zone. I don’t talk to anyone in the call room before a race.

“If I’ve got my sunglasses on, there’s no point trying to speak to me! Everyone has their own methods and that works for me, even when it’s raining. You’ve got to do what’s best for you.”