Less then 12 months after finishing second in the World Para Athletics Championships held during the London Marathon, Scotland’s Derek Rae will take another step towards the Tokyo Paralympics when he makes his debut at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday (Jan 24).

After a month of intense training in Kenya, the 34-year-old Scot will arrive in Dubai this week as part of his ongoing preparations for selection for Japan 2020.

“I’ll have been in Kenya for four weeks before I arrive on Wednesday,” he said. “This will be the first time I’ve raced straight off the back of altitude. Last year, an athlete in camp who ran in Dubai spoke highly of the race. I believe it’s a relatively straight, flat and potentially a quick course so I’m excited to get more experience under my belt.”

Last April, Rae carved six minutes off his personal best to claim silver in London – a medal he received from Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex – with the Kirkcaldy man crossing the finish line in 2:27:08 to seal a podium place for Team GB. That World Para Athletics Championship medal-winning performance came just six months after being named FPSG Scottish Para Athlete of The Year.

Rae became a para athlete after suffering a severe injury to his arm and the right side of his body in a road accident in 2010 and now competes with his arm in a sling.

And after a recent run of success that included winning the World Para Athletics Marathon Cup for his class in 2018, the next major ambition for the flying Scotsman is the Tokyo Paralympics – an appearance on the fast, flat streets of Dubai will take him one step closer.

“I chose Dubai for a number of reasons,” he added. “I was very keen to try a race having come down from altitude. I also think it will be beneficial to run a race in relatively warm conditions – I know the heat will be on the favourable side of 20° but I think it’ll still be challenging.

Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the 2020 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon comes at just the right time for the Scottish athlete.

“The date suits me well and it’s been good focusing my attention over the winter on the Dubai Marathon. I’m usually at the beginning of my preparation for London but I’m missing it this year so the Dubai Marathon has kept me focused on my training and preparation.”

Rae added: “After Dubai, I’ll make sure I’m fully recovered before starting my preparation for Tokyo. The first round of selection is in June so hopefully my name will be included then I can turn all my attention to my preparation. I never thought I’d be able to call myself a Paralympian and I’m honoured to do so but I want to go to Tokyo in the best possible shape and be competitive.”

Runners looking to join Derek Rae on the start line for the Marathon – or take part in the 10km Road Race and 4km Fun Run – can register online at www.dubaimarathon.org. UAE Nationals in particular are being encouraged to take part in the event thanks to the ‘#My City_My Race’ campaign, an initiative launched by Dubai Holding.

In addition to Standard Chartered as title sponsor, the Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, adidas, Dubai Holding, Masafi, Channel 4 Radio Network, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Police and the RTA. Live TV coverage of the race will be available at http://bit.ly/DubaiMarathon2020.