TIDWORTH veteran Steve Arnold has been selected for his first Paralympic Games at the age of 42.

The former Army sergeant only started Para Nordic skiing five years ago after losing both of his legs while serving in Afghanistan in April 2011.

Arnold narrowly missed out on selection for the Winter Games in 2018, an impressive feat considering he had only picked up the sport a year prior.

However, evergreen Arnold’s place in ParalympicsGB’s team for Beijing 2022 is secure, with the Games set to begin tomorrow.

Arnold will be one of the older members in Britain’s 25-strong contingent and admits a long-term desire to banish those PyeongChang demons helped book his seat on the plane.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Arnold, one of over 1,000 athletes supported by National Lottery funding.

“A massive amount of hard work has gone into this. I just missed out in 2018 – came into the sport too late and needed to do too much to get there, so I’ve had so much drive and determination to compete and get there this time.

“At the time, just missing out it was very disappointing. I found it tough for the first couple of months after but looking back, I probably wasn’t ready. Four years more of training was definitely what I needed.

“I’m not getting any younger, I’m 42-years-old and didn’t start this sport until I was 37. Most people are thinking about retiring then, rather than getting to their first Paralympic Games.

“I’ve put a lot into it, and it will probably be my one and only chance. We’ll see what happens after this one – but I just can’t wait to get out there.”

“It’s going to be the biggest event I’ve ever done – it probably will be my one and only Games so I want to put my best results out there.”

Arnold scored a top 10 finish at last month’s World Championship in Lillehammer and arrives in the Chinese capital with momentum.

The Wiltshire star will compete in both the biathlon and cross-country events in China’s Zhangjiakou district as part of a five-strong Nordic team alongside Scott Meenagh, Callum Deboys, Steve Thomas and Hope Gordon.

“The main thing for me is to get out there and give my best performance,” added Arnold, who knows that bagging a medal in Beijing would add to the 1,000-plus achieved by British athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding to elite sport in 1997.

“To race with all five of us in the Nordic team on the biggest stage on the world and showcase our sport drives me the most.

“I can’t wait to get out there after four years of blood, sweat and tears.

“Going out there racing with these great friends of mine will be the most incredible feeling for me.”

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