Debuting at a World Championships is a special moment for any athlete – for Benjamin Pritchard, it was once beyond his wildest dreams.

The 27-year-old, involved in a cycling crash three years ago, wasted no time in making headlines in the world of para-sport and won bronze at his Rowing World Cup debut in Poznan in June.

And after edging out Andy Houghton to claim the PR1 single skull spot and a debut at this week’s World Championships, Pritchard can’t quite believe how far he has come.

“It’s a massive accolade,” said the Welshman.

“It’s been a very hard selection process this year. Andy and I have had a little battle to see who got the boat, and to be chosen was a massive honour.

“When you look at it objectively, you think three years is a very short time, but when you live it daily, you realise it’s not.

Pritchard only took up rowing in late 2016

“I often kick myself and think ‘three years ago I was in a hospital bed, I was riding my bike.’ It takes moments like this to realise it wasn’t all that long ago. I didn’t think I’d be here right now.”

The former triathlete announced himself on the global stage with a thumping heat win, advancing as fastest qualifier for Thursday’s semi-final by a 16-second margin.

A top seven finish in Linz, Austria is the stated task to secure a quota place for the Tokyo Paralympics.

Tokyo may be the ultimate goal, but whatever happens at the World Championships, Pritchard is relieved that sport is still able to have an impact on his life.

“Sport is everything to me,” added Pritchard.

“I find my biggest release from sport. I relax and I’m chilled and I really enjoy doing sport. That’s been ever since I was little.

“I think if I couldn’t do sport, I would have really struggle with my disability, but because I was able to do sport, I have come to terms with it.

“I might be disabled but I can do sport, I can still race the best in the world, I can go to the Paralympics – I can do so much.

“I am very thankful to sport for playing such a big role in my life.”

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