Fox is very special guest at Herald Sports awards
LONDON Paralympic Games gold medallist Jonathan Fox will be the special guest at next month's Herald Sports Personality of the Year awards.
Fox, 21, will share the spotlight at this year's glittering awards, now in their 11th year and sponsored by Michael Spiers Jewellers, at the Plymouth Pavilions on Monday, December 3.
The competition for the eight awards has never been fiercer following this summer's spectacular Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.
Diver Tom Daley, swimmer Ruta Meilutyte and cyclist Jon Tiernan-Locke lead the stellar running to be named The Herald Sports Personality of the Year 2012.
Fox, who was born in Plymouth and lives in St Stephen, Cornwall, can't wait.
He said: "It will be such a pleasure to come along on the night, back in Plymouth where I'm from.
"It's good to give something back. I'm really looking forward to it."
Fox won Team GB's first Paralympic gold in the swimming pool at the 17,500-capacity London Aquatics Centre in August.
He took the title in the S7 men's 100metres backstroke.
Paralympic swimming is split into 10 categories – S1-S10. The higher the number, the more mobility athletes have.
Fox has cerebral palsy, a condition which affects your movement.
He is keen to relay his experience of London and help focus the spotlight which shone so brightly on Paralympic sport for 12 magical days this summer.
Fox said of London: "Everyone was so friendly and a lot of my friends and family said they enjoyed watching the Paralympics more than the Olympics this summer.
"Publicity for the Paralympics is getting better and better. London was a really good experience."
The Games' British broadcaster Channel 4 initially only scheduled daily highlight shows before bowing to huge public demand and ripping up their daytime schedule to broadcast 16 hours of action, daily, nearly uninterrupted.
Audiences on Channel 4 peaked at 3.3 million, easily eclipsing an average audience on BBC of 2.1 million for coverage of the Beijing Paralympics in 2008.
The Olympics and Paralympics were special on every level, but even more so for the Paralympics, which came home in 2012 following their birth in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire in 1948.
Stoke Mandeville is home to the National Spinal Injuries Centre, where pioneering neurologist Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann first devised the Games.
Fox, who receives élite Band A Podium funding from UK Sport alongside stars like Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah, belongs to the latest generation enjoying the lasting legacy of Guttmann's lifework.
Fox, who for the last two years has been based and trains full-time at the Manchester High Performance Centre under national high performance coach Mick Massey, said: "I want to tell everyone of my experiences of the Paralympics.
"People only see the races. I want them to know about what goes on behind the scenes.
"When you're in full training it's like going through hell."
Fox's parents Mary and Eric live at the family home in St Stephen alongside their other son, Frazer, 19, who studies at Bath University.
Fox, encouraged by his parents, joined St Austell Sharks swimming club to help manage his condition.
He enjoyed it, found he had a talent for it and began swimming competitively 10 years ago when he was 11.
Fox graduated to Newquay Cormorants swimming club under coach Phil Goldman, where he remained until 2010 in the run-up to London.
Fox said: "Phil Goldman got me 80 per cent there, but I had to step it up ahead of London. My training got so intense."
Fox has done public speaking before on a smaller scale, but nothing like The Herald's Sports Personality awards.
He hopes December 3 will showcase the growth in his own confidence, which he dates back to moving away from home to train in Manchester two years ago.
Fox said: "I've done some public speaking before, but this will be the biggest thing I've ever spoken at.
"I used to have a problem with confidence, but since I've moved and lived on my own in Manchester it's really brought my confidence along. I enjoy public speaking now."
December 3 promises to be a special night.
Fox, who won 100m backstroke silver in the Beijing Paralympics, has a lot to say.
Of his magical gold medal win in August, he recalls: "When you come out into the arena and see all the people and hear 17,500 screaming your name, I can't describe how much motivation that gives you to win.
"It was a battle to get that gold. I just really wanted it."
FOR ticket and table information for The Herald Sports Personality of the Year 2012 awards, contact Clair Skelley at The Herald on 01752 765532 or at email@example.com