JUBILANT James Bevis reckons lockdown has got him fine-tuned for a crack at Tokyo glory after hailing a ‘privilege’ at securing selection for the Paralympics in GB’s squad for Japan.

The evergreen Hereford shooter scooped bronze in his SH2 classification at London 2012 and is now gearing up for a fourth Paralympic Games this summer.

Bevis was unable to emulate his podium heroics in Rio but has used the last year to train in his garage and cycle 6,500 kilometres to bolster his fitness levels.

He says Paralympic selection is the perfect reward for months of hard graft on the south-west coast roads.

“It’s a very proud day – it’s a privilege and an honour to be selected,” said Bevis, 44, one of over 1,100 National Lottery-funded elite athletes on UK Sport’s World Class Programme.

“It’s been a tough year with the Paralympics being cancelled last year, but it’s definitely given us a bit more time to get in shape and prepare better. It’s a very, very great day.

“In the first lockdown, initially I found it hard at the beginning. But then I really got into it.

“What it has really taught me is how to train so much better and really understand myself more. I train every day with either fitness or shooting.

“I train in my garage at home – I haven’t got any kind of range. I just stare at a garage door for hours and hours, but it’s really good for my training.

“I also cycled 6,500km last year. Lockdown has really taught me a lot – of course, it’s very hard and we’re not able to get away to camps so much, but it’s definitely made me stronger and a stronger person, and so much more prepared for Tokyo.”

National Lottery funding has powered Bevis’ Japanese journey and allows him to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

Bevis finished 19th in both the standing and prone categories on his Paralympic debut in 2008 before propelling himself into the big time with that thrilling London bronze.

He slipped to 18th and 32nd-place finishes in Brazil but soared to World Cup glory in Chateauroux two years later to both defend his R9 title and catapult himself towards Paralympic selection.

He also finished eighth in the mixed 50m rifle prone at the 2018 World Championships and reckons years of gradual improvement paved the way for him reaching Japan.

Bevis, who will be bidding to add to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won by Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997, added: “I’ve put a real lot of hard work in over the last few years.

“I’ve done well overseas and got my quota place – really – in 2018, so that was good.

“I’ve just been doing really well and putting myself into finals and really placing myself, training and preparing to be able to win medals.

“I only train to win – my whole life is around winning medals.”

National Lottery players raise around £30 million each week for good causes and have helped Bevis, who has been shooting since the age of seven, navigate his way to Japan.

The evergreen ace boasts a glittering personal roll call and was named Herefordshire Sports Para Sportsperson of the Year in 2011 before winning the Sportsperson with an Impairment of the Year award at the Teignbridge Sports Awards three years later.

It’s been a journey of relentless dedication and sacrifice but Bevis knows he could never have done it if it wasn’t for National Lottery players.

“We owe everything to The National Lottery funding,” he said.

“We thank everybody for that. Of course, it’s so important for us to be able to have this and for us to be able to use it in a way so we can train 100 per cent.

“The sense of so much support behind us is phenomenal, so we thank everybody for that.”

No one does more to support Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £30 million each week for good causes. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has on sport at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #TracktoTokyo