Friday, March 27, 2015

Para-cycling and the Road to Rio 2016

Dame Sarah Storey won Women's C-5 500m TT PIC Bryn Lennon Getty
This week the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships take place in Holland with cyclists competing for valuable places in Rio2016.

For me Paralympians are some of the most inspiring sports women you can find. These are women carrying injuries or illnesses which in the past would have relegated them to a life in bed or even locked away in an institution. Today you see them on the roads biking at high speed, running, throwing discus and generally representing themselves to an incredibly high standard.

It's probably fair to say the gap between the Olympics and the Paralympics is closing - people are begining to see past the disabilities and just see athletes striving to succeed. It started with Bejing to a certain extent but it was really the London Games which dragged the Paralympics onto the stage.

Cycling was my first "in" to the world of Paralympics. I interviewed Irish para-cycylist Catherine Walsh in early 2012 and followed her journey to the London Olympics. Walsh raced with partner Fran Meehan on specially designed tandem bikes - gathering a collection of medals including Paralympic Silver that year.

Since then I've met swimmers, discus throwers, runners, footballers. And now with this latest championship it really feels like Rio2016 is getting closer. Over the next few months would-be Paralympians will be competing for those final precious places on the teams.

I'll be updating on this blog. Obviously with a focus on the Irish team but if you know of anyone I should feature who is competing in your area or your country, let me know. I'll also be taking a look at the classification system for each sport as that is central to the principles of the Games.

This video will take you back to the glory days of London2012 - a taster for what we have to look forward to over the next few months.

Have a good weekend!


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