David Devine has fallen back in love this Valentine’s Day - with running.

The double Paralympic bronze medallist admits he would have called time on his athletics career if his new coach hadn’t reignited his passion for the sport. Devine made his breakthrough at London 2012 but a freak injury just a few months later kept him on the sidelines for three years – and slowly sapped his motivation to make it back to the big stage.

However, he credits coach Tony Clarke for turning his career around, with 5,000m gold at last year’s European Championships in Berlin giving him back his former swagger.

And the 27-year-old T12 and T13 athlete is now brimming with confidence, with November’s IPC World Championships in Dubai his main target for the season.

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"He has made me love my athletics again"

David Devine

“When I first joined Tony’s training group two years ago I wasn’t motivated at all but since then he has made me love my athletics again,” said Devine.

“I approached him at the Liverpool Harriers track and asked him if he would be interested in training me and the first thing he said was that he would make me enjoy it again.

“For the first six months we just focussed on the basics and getting fit again. Now I’m in the best shape of my life and I would say it is all down to him to be honest. “My physio Ian Horsley has also helped me out massively too – he has helped me get fit and stay injury free, he has got me back in the shape that I need to be in.”

Devine’s bronze medals in the 1500m and 800m at London 2012 were certainly memorable – the latter secured in dramatic style, roared on by a home crowd Devine chased down Cuba’s Lazaro Rashid, with the results of their photo finish seemingly taking an age.

London bronze

But during a routine run in December that year, Devine stepped in a puddle - with devastating consequences.

So insignificant was the misstep at the time that he continued his run but by the morning the Liverpudlian was unable to walk across the room, a problem that persisted for the next 18 months.

“I got my foot stuck in some mud and when I pulled it out I felt a ping,” he added.

“It didn’t bother me too much and I carried on running but when I woke up the next morning I had a lump the size of a thumbnail on the side of my ankle.

“I couldn’t even walk on it – it was just too painful. The pain wasn’t going away either and I was doing all this rehab – I would complete the rehab and then the same problem would still be there.

“I missed the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons because it took 18 months to even diagnose my injury and when it eventually got identified it turned out there was a nerve tangled up in my Achilles tendon, so any time there was pressure on my foot it would pull the nerve.

“I went through a few operations that weren’t necessary and it was very difficult to turn up to physiotherapy every day and not get any solid answers as to what the problem was.

“The whole thing took about three years all told. I’m absolutely fine now but there were many times that I felt as though I was going to just walk away from athletics.”

Devine, who also won 1500m silver at last year’s European Championships, pushed his 5,000m personal best close in December and believes by his Spring reappearance in a British Milers Club race, he’ll be running quicker than ever.

“Winning the Paralympics in Tokyo is the ultimate goal now and whether it is over 1500m or the 5,000m it doesn’t bother me - though obviously both would be great,” said Devine.

Back in love and dreaming of glory, Devine’s long road from London to Tokyo will hopefully get its happy ending.

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