FRESH from sealing her third Wimbledon doubles title, confidence is at an all-time high for Jordanne Whiley as the Rio Paralympic Games draw ever-closer, and she is adamant this could be the year she clinches that coveted gold medal.

September’s Games will be 24-year-old Whiley’s third successive Paralympics, having won doubles bronze four years ago in the capital, and since then, has gone on to win a further five Grand Slam titles in addition to her three from SW19.

She made her Olympic debut at just 16 years of age in Beijing, and while she is yet to progress further than the first round in the singles event, her form in recent years, which saw her awarded an MBE in 2015, sets her in pole position for gold in Brazil.

And with plenty of experience now under her belt, Whiley, who has osteogenesis imperfecta, admits the Paralympics couldn’t have come at a better time for her.

“It has come around so quickly,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was relaxed and thinking we had a year to go, and now it is here but I am really excited.

“We officially got announced a couple of weeks ago but we knew a few months before because it is based on ranking.

“This will be my third Games now and it is as special as the first. It is not every year you get to do this and it is the pinnacle of our sport and I’m desperate to bring back a gold medal.

“I do have a lot of experience and maturity behind me now, whereas I didn’t in London or Beijing.

“Nothing is going to surprise me, I know exactly what is coming. We will not have the entire British crowd there and we don’t know what the reception will be like from the Brazilian public

 “I think the mental pressure was a massive learning curve for me because it is not easy going into Games as the favourite.

“But in London I was young, I was inexperienced, I had not had a winning feeling in Grand Slams and I did not know myself, but now I have all of that in the bag. It will be different.”

With the Rio Paralympics set to be the most competitive Games ever, Whiley’s recent form will undoubtedly strike fear in her opponents, something which she admits she thrives upon.

And for Whiley, who won her first National title at the age of 14, the whirlwind of success she has experienced in recent years has boosted her confidence on the court no end.

“I am peaking at the right time definitely and I am having a wonderful season,” she said. “I won my first singles title at the US Open last year, and I have won a load more since so I feel good.

“I am very confident. I don’t want to be too over confident but I am in a good place.

“It is different now because I am favourite and it is something I have never experienced before. But I like that, I like that people fear me because before people did not fear me.

“I thrive on it. It is easier being the underdog because you have no pressure on you. But when you know your opponent fears you I think that is naturally something people thrive on.

“Before my success at the US Open, I did not think I would ever have that success and I was in a very low place confidence wise.

“That was when the win came because I wanted it so desperately it was clouding my judgement. But when I let that go, I played my best.

“It was relief. When it happened it was great but at the same time I felt so happy and relieved to have finally done it. It definitely proved I could do it.”

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