AMMANFORD para rower Benjamin Pritchard has defied the odds to win a silver medal at the European Championships – despite having to recover from injury and catching coronavirus.

Pritchard was diagnosed with Covid-19 just before Christmas, and although he only suffered mild symptoms, it impacted on his recovery time, having undergone arm surgery a month earlier.

The 29-year-old, however, has battled back to fitness to finish second in the PR1 men's single sculls in Varese, Italy, behind defending Paralympic, World and European Champion Roman Polianskyi.

“The decision for me to fly was only made on the Monday afternoon, it was touch and go and we didn't know if I was competing,” revealed Pritchard, who is a former cyclist and triathlete.

“I’ve been dealing with a back niggle and tests around my Covid recovery, and struggling to bounce back from certain aspects of my training - it always felt like I was chasing fitness.”

He added: “I was struggling with fatigue elements of recovery, I can perform when I need to, but it takes five, six, seven days to come back from that, and that's something we were trying to look at.

“Before the European Championships, we didn't know whether racing three times in four days was a good decision, but luckily I only had to race twice, because I made it straight through to the final.

"It'll be interesting to see how I recover from that final effort, because in the heats I managed to stay within myself, but it was only when the final came did I have to unload everything."

After only taking up rowing in late 2016, Pritchard has had a phenomenal rise to the international stage, after becoming paralysed from the waist down following a cycling crash.

He first took up indoor rowing during his rehab at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and was quickly spotted by British Rowing staff, joining the para development squad in 2017.

The insurance broker moved back from London to Wales in 2018, living in Ammanford and training with the Wales rowing squad, based at Channel View Leisure Centre in Cardiff.

On his debut for the GB Rowing Team in 2019, he won two bronze medals at the Gavirate International Regatta, before winning bronze at World Cup II in Poznan on his World Cup debut.

He was then selected to represent Great Britain as the PR1 men’s single sculler at the 2019 World Championships, where he finished just one second outside of the medals in fourth.

That result ensured Great Britain will compete in the PR1 men’s single sculls at this year's Paralympics - although he is still yet to secure his place in the Team GB team for Tokyo.

“The first thing is to get selected, that’s where all my focus has to go," said Pritchard, who grew up in the Mumbles, Gower, and represented his country in athletics, and then triathlon.

"It’s pretty exciting, scary and daunting when you look at your training block that I have got to get through – but at the end of it, hopefully, there will be Tokyo.”