Paralympic archery champion Danielle Brown is hoping that a move to full-time training next year will help her retain her crown at the 2012 Games.
The University of Leicester law student will compete her studies in the summer and take up the bow full time as she bids to retain her title in London.
“”It’s been tough trying to balance the demands of university and shooting,”” she told BBC Sport.
“”But once I finish my degree, the hard work towards London will really start.””
The 21-year-old from Yorkshire went to Beijing as the youngest member of the GB archery squad and came home with a gold medal in the compound event.
She suffers from a condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy which results in chronic pain in her feet, so she shoots propped on a stool.
Her success continued this year as she retained her world individual compound title and also won the team title with Pippa Britton and Mel Clarke in the Czech Republic.
She was also Britain’s sole archery representative at the World University Games in Belgrade, just missing out on a place in the quarter-finals against able-bodied rivals.
“”I went to the Worlds not shooting as well as I had been when I went to Beijing. I hoped to medal but I wasn’t as confident as I was before the Paralympics,”” said Brown.
“”I learned a lot from Beijing and although physically I wasn’t as good a shape, I was a lot stronger mentally and that helped me a lot.
“”I spent much of the whole summer playing catch-up because I had to take so much time out because of my exams.
“”The amount you have to learn for law takes up a lot of your time and obviously shooting is also time consuming and trying to balance the two, especially during exam time, was very demanding.
“”I’m now in my third year and I’ve picked two subjects which are mainly coursework-based so I will just have two exams at the end so hopefully that means I can do a bit more training and spread it out across the year a bit better.””
Brown’s studies have also put paid to any hopes she may have had of competing in next year’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi and she was only able to get two of the three qualifying scores she needed to be in with a chance of selection.
But despite that disappointment, Brown has received plenty of accolades, was nominated for the disability award at the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year awards and also won the top female honour at the recent British Wheelchair Sports Awards.
“”It’s amazing – the calibre of Paralympic athletes is so high and to have been recognised in a relatively low profile sport is really great,”” she said.
“”I think winning gold has helped raise the profile at the sport but at the end of it, I love what I do and I love to compete and it means I want to go and train even if the weather is bad.
“”Switching to full-time training will give me two years of preparation ahead of London. I hope that helps to bring me on to another level.
“”I’m excited about the prospect of competing in front of a home crowd in 2012 and defending my title.
“”I also want to continue to shoot against able-bodied competitors, because I think the more experience I get against them, the better Paralympic athlete I will be.””