LOUIS Stone has set his heart on appearing at the 2020 Paralympic Games after being inspired by London 2012.
The 22-year-old from Southend is autistic and is aiming at competing in powerlifting.
He is currently training at a gym in the town as he gears up to start entering competitions later this year.
“I had always wanted to be in the Paralympics and the Games last year and all the gold medals we won really inspired me,” said Stone.
“It made me think ‘what are you doing with your life?’ and got me back into training.
“And when Martine Wright won an award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards just before Christmas it gave me further inspiration.”
Stone started his training last August while the London Games were in progress and is now working with coaches at Fitness for Less in Victoria Shopping Centre.
The weightlifter is training four to five times a week for three to four hours at a time.
He is aiming to start competing in September and is currently looking for sponsors to help him meet competition costs.
People with autism were only allowed to start competing at the Paralympics again this year following the scandal involving the Spanish basketball team at the Sydney Games in 2000.
Ten of the 12-strong team were discovered not to have the developmental disability and the International Paralympic Committee decided that no further events would be held in this category until a reliable system for testing autism was devised.
With a reliable testing system in place, athletes with autism were allowed to participate at the London Paralympics, where they competed in athletics, swimming and table tennis.
Stone feels the Rio Games in 2016 will come too soon for him and that the Paralympics four years later are a more realistic target.
“Martine lost her legs in the 2005 London bombings and she trained for seven years to get to the Paralympics,” added Stone.
“I’m hoping to make the 2020 Games and would like to thank my family, friends and the trainers at the gym for all their support so far.”
The decision as to the venue for the 2012 Games has yet to be decided, with Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid in the running.
Stone is hoping the Spanish capital will get the nod as he has started learning the language.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Louis Stone can contact him on 07506 425926.