Paralympic champion Hollie Arnold says the prospect of defending her javelin title in Tokyo is more daunting than being showered with fetid fish guts on national television.
The 26-year-old was on Wednesday named in Great Britain’s squad for the rescheduled Games, five years on from claiming gold in the F46 category at Rio 2016 with a mammoth then-world-record throw of 43.01 metres.
Her forthcoming trip to Japan follows being a contestant on ITV’s hit survival show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
She was the first contestant to leave the camp – which was switched from Australia to north Wales due to coronavirus restrictions – in late November but not before enduring a “quite horrifying” ordeal.
“The Paralympics is my life, it is my job and I want to be able to make myself proud. I want to go out there and do what I love doing, so winning a gold medal in Tokyo is more daunting than going to I’m a Celebrity,” she told the PA news agency.
“I learnt a lot from the experience, I never realised I would get an opportunity like that.
“Obviously leaving first was really tough; I didn’t want to leave at all.
“But being in with all the girls, all tied up and having fish guts thrown at us and God knows what – the smell was disgusting, none of us could get it out of our hair for weeks – was awful.
“That really was the worst, it was quite horrifying, to be honest.”
Arnold, who was born without a right forearm, is preparing for her fourth consecutive Games.
She travelled to Beijing in 2008 aged just 14, before representing Britain on home soil at London 2012, prior to her gold medal performance in Brazil.
The Lincolnshire-born athlete has since become Commonwealth and European champion, while she added a fourth successive world crown to her enviable list of accolades in 2019.
Arnold, who represented Wales at the Commonwealth Games, believes her stint on reality TV has given her increased self-belief.
“For me, it was realising that I had a lot more strength, a lot more resilience, a lot more respect for myself and managing certain things in pressure situations,” she said of the experience.
“I didn’t realise that I’m good at things like that; I’m quite harsh on myself so seeing that I’m able to do things in a different pressurised situation was really nice.
“I enjoyed coming out of there a bit fresh and a bit new and a bit more confident.”
Speaking of being Paralympic defending champion, she added: “Of course there is a target on my back. There is a lot of pressure and I put a lot of pressure on myself – I don’t train day in, day out to come second.”