Jody has been named BBC East’s Disabled Sports Personality of the Year for his Gold medal winning performances at the Track World Championship in Montichiari earlier this year, where he managed to come away with two Gold and a Silver medal, breaking two World records in the process. Unfortunately Jody could not receive the award for Disability Sports Personality of the Year in person as he is currently on a training camp in Majorca, but he joined the award ceremony in Bedford via a live video uplink.
It is the second time that Jody has won this award, having previously won it in 2008 for his success at the Beijing Paralympics. Jody said “I feel honoured to receive this award and being names BBC East’s Disability Sports Personality of the Year. It’s always nice to be nominated let alone win, and having the recognition from a whole region for my sporting success is always a good feeling.”
Jody will return to Manchester before Christmas to spend the festive season with his family and friends before continuing work on the track in the build up to the Track World Championships in Los Angeles in February.
BBC East SPOTY Winners:
Outstanding Achievement: Chrissie Wellington, triathlon (Norfolk)
Sports Personality of the Year: Alastair Cook, cricket (Essex & Beds)
Sporting Legend: Tim Foster, rowing (Beds)
Unsung Hero: Dawn Barnard (Essex)
Disabled SPOTY: Jody Cundy, Paralympic Cycling (Cambs)
Team of the Year: Red Bull F1 (Bucks)
Coach of the Year: Graham Westley (pictured), Stevenage FC manager
Volunteer: Sam Robinson (Cambs)
Club of the Year: Norwich Canoe Club
Young SPOTY: Charley Hull, golfer (Northants)
School of the Year: County Upper School, Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk)
A collection of specially commissioned images by twelve of the UK’s leading artists to celebrate the London 2012 Games have been unveiled. Each image is a distinct interpretation of either the Olympic or Paralympic Games by the artists, with the diversity of the series demonstrating the creative talent that exists within the UK. The images will go on show at Tate Britain in a free exhibition as part of the London 2012 Festival in the summer of 2012 and will also be featured as part of a high profile campaign to promote the London 2012 Games.
Earlier this year I stood as a model for Fiona Banner in order to create one of the Paralympic posters – “Superhuman Nude” I feel very honoured to be part of the campaign. I was over the moon when I was told that Fiona wanted to work with me for one of the London 2012 posters and I am absolutely delighted with the final product. The feedback has been fantastic so far and I can’t wait to have it hanging in my house now!
Superhuman Poster by Fiona Banner
A set of the images has been given to the Queen for the Royal Collection and to other important British art collections, including the Government Art Collection (which will be displaying the images in 10 Downing St in 2012) and the British Council (which is planning on exhibiting the images across China in 2012 as part of ‘UK Now’, the largest festival of British arts ever to be shown in China, as well as displaying the posters in British Council’s across the world).
The images will also be available to buy as both posters and limited edition prints. The posters (at a cost of £7) and a small number of limited edition prints will be available to order on the London 2012 online shop. The limited edition prints will also be for sale individually and as a special boxed set from Counter Editions, the publisher of the prints, who can be contacted on [email protected] and +44 207 684 8888.
Fiona Banner – Superhuman Nude
Fiona Banner creates nude studies from life, transcribing physical scenarios into verbal descriptions. These ‘wordscapes’ define the shapes and forms of the body as well as fleeting moments such as the tension in a second of shared eye contact, or a nervous finger tapping. Banner’s print is described as a nude study of a Paralympic Athlete. The title alludes to the extraordinary physicality of his body. She focuses on strength and physicality but also on the fragility of a human awaiting competition. Banner says ‘I liked the idea of comparing the athlete to a superhero, with some extraordinary prosthetic gift. Looking at an athlete naked made them powerful and vulnerable at once.’
See all the Olympic and Paralympic posters here.
Jody on the track at Manchester
Well with all the excitement of 1 year to go celebrations I thought it was a good idea to update you on my progress and let you know what’s been happening over the last few months.
At the end of my last blog I was off to Glasgow to join over 600 riders, all raising money for Paralympics GB, on day 4 of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain. Myself and other members of the GB Para- cycling team (Darren Kenny, David Stone, Terry Byrne, Jon-Allan Butterworth, Helen Scott) rode alongside them for 4 days down to Bath race course. The ride didn’t get off to a great start, for myself Darren and David. We had been competing in Spain at the Para-cycling World Cup, but unfortunately for us our bikes didn’t make it with us to Glasgow! It was only by pit stop 1 that we managed to get hold of our bikes, and we joined the other riders on route to Carlisle Race Course. On each stage we started the ride as the last group off, and throughout the day we’d over take and talk to as many riders as possible. Some would join our train even if it was only for a few minutes just to say they’d rode with us, and others were just happy for the encouragement we gave them as they made their way to the finish line. The 4 days we rode were some of the hardest I’ve had in the saddle, not because of the terrain, or the length of the stage (even though they were the biggest rides I’ve done), it was the shocking weather we had to put up with. And in Chorley on the way to Haydock Park race course, this was possibly the worst I’ve ever seen, let alone ride in I really did wonder what I was doing! It was a shame we couldn’t do the whole RAB, but hopefully our presence through the midsection of the ride helped the moral of the riders as they headed to Land’s End.
Jody - Image ©Copyright British Cycling
National Time Trial Championships
At the start of August I headed down to Worcestershire to take part in round 5 of the Rudy Project Time Trial Series, which also doubled as the Para-Cycling National Championships. The course was changed at the last minute due to road works, into a challenging 13 miles of undulating roads. I rode as fast as possible around the course, trying to maintain as much momentum on the steep rises scattered throughout and managed to finish in 32:52. This was good enough for 4th place, definitely not a course suited to me, but perfect preparation for the World Championship TT the following month.
World Championships – Roskilde Denmark Worlds Day 2 C4 30.6km TT
The road worlds were something I’d never planned to do at the start of the year, but with a few top ten finishes at the world cup, and other events it kind of made sense and I found myself on the plane to Roskilde in Denmark. The first few days of training around the course were wet, and that didn’t give myself or team mates much confidence of a dry race, especially as all the app’s on our iPad’s laptops and phones had it down to be wet. But come the first day of racing the weather had picked up, and managed to stay dry for the duration of the competition. The time trial was first up for me, and I managed to get plenty of useful tips from my team mates who had tackled the course on day one of the championships, however I knew it was going to be tough, as it was a longer TT than I’d previously ridden and also with its undulating nature it was going to involve an element of pacing so I would not overcook it on the first lap. With my coach in the following car shouting words of encouragement on the megaphone I was underway, trying to maintain speed without going too deep into the red, as I came through lap 1 of 2 I was feeling pretty strong, but that feeling soon disappeared as my minute man over took me into turn 1 of the course. I had an idea this was going to happen as he had won the Segovia round of the world cup, so I just wanted to keep him in sight so I could post a reasonable time. However Roberto was quickly pulling away from me, and just as I needed to inject a bit more effort to maintain my speed the first laps efforts began to take their toll. It wasn’t until I was about 3⁄4 of the way through the ride did I get a second wind, but by now the damage was done and it was a matter of surviving to the end. I crossed the line in 45.13, a reasonable time, but only good enough for 12th place, just outside the top ten goal I thought I could do if everything went my way. After the TT I had an easy day, before an early starting road race, at 8am on a Sunday morning. I can’t even remember in my swimming days a start that unreasonably early!
Worlds Day 4 – C4 & C5 road race 75.6km
The goal for the road race was to try to stay in the bunch to the end and then sprint for the finish and see what that would get me. The bunch was the biggest I’d race in all year, 49 riders from the C4 and C5 class. The previous day there had been many crashes in the C1-3 race, and the first lap seemed pretty cautious, with everyone taking care through all the technical sections. By lap 2 the pace had increased and the race was on. However at the end of 4 laps I was still in the race as each break failed to get away. Even though lap 4 was easily the toughest all I had to do was just hold on for one more lap before being able to get involved in a bunch sprint for the finish.
With 2 km’s to go and much to my surprise, I was still there and was starting to think that it might actually be my day. Into the last kilometre the pace picked up again, as I found Jiri Jezek’s wheel and thought it was going to be a good place to sit. But just as I got settled in, there was a touch of wheels from behind, which forced me wide. I managed to stay on Jiri’s wheel, when almost instantly there was another touch of wheels. It was all gettng a bit too close for me and I had images of myself crashing in the last roundabout before the final 300m sprint. I had been watching the C1-3 race the previous day which had a crash in exactly the same place and didn’t want this to happen to me. I know the possibility of crashing shouldn’t affect me, but with the road being such a minor focus for me, I took the decision to back out of the sprint. As I moved to the side, I watched the finish in front of me, and sure enough there was a crash at the roundabout. I will never know if I would have been caught up in it had I continued to sprint, but I kind of regret not going for it, especially as I know I have more speed than any of the riders in the bunch. Unfortunately (or fortunately perhaps) in that sprint I developed a conscience and that voice in my head said it wasn’t worth the risk. I know it was for a podium place at a world championship, but I have to look at the bigger picture and that is London. Therefore, starting my track season injured probably wouldn’t be the best idea. I’m a trackie who loves riding my bike as fast as possible around a velodrome and I want to show the world just how fast I can go in less than a year, but in order to do that I need to stay injury free.
The road season for me has been a good experience, and although I didn’t score anymore qualification points for London at the World Championships, I’ve come away with an increased endurance base that I can now work into my track season.
Jody & Girlfriend Christina At The Beach
Outside of training and racing, I have been quite busy off the bike. I can’t tell you everything yet, as a lot of things haven’t been announced yet, however one project I can tell you about was collaboration between Channel 4 and Sainsbury’s. They have made a series of ten ninety second films, each one focussing on a different Paralympic athlete. My film was to be the last in the series and involved 2 days of filming. The first day was to capture me in my training environment, so they came to the velodrome with some very fancy HD cameras, lighting and a bunch of ideas. It was pretty enjoyable riding with cameras mounted to my bike, and to the motorbike I was chasing, it was all good fun, and the little clips I could see it was looking pretty cool too. With all the filming at the velodrome done, the second day of filming was to capture me outside of my training environment relaxing with friends and family. First venue was Hunstanton beach. Originally they’d planned on filming me fly my power kite, and being dragged through the sand, however it was pretty obvious that wasn’t going to happen as there wasn’t a breath of wind in the air! In the end they decided to film me walking hand in hand on the sand with Christina, my girlfriend, and then skimming some stones on the calm sea. After getting the shots they wanted it was off to my uncles, where we had planned a bit of a get together with members of my family. We played a little golf, and then a game of cricket before having something to eat, all in front of the cameras. After all the filming they had one piece left to do, and that was to film my mum. She was going to be the voiceover for the film, and as such I wasn’t allowed to hear what she said until I saw the finished film.
I’m pleased with the final film, and think the voice over from my mum is almost poetic. If you didn’t catch it you can see the film on my website by clicking here.
Next stop for me is a trip to the London velodrome, where I shall be riding with the Para-cycling squad for 3 sessions to learn the ins and outs of the new track before next year’s Paralympics.
Catch you all next month.
Piacenza, Gippingen & Segovia
by Jody Cundy
Once I was back from Sydney, I had a few weeks of training to prepare for the next trip away, in which I would be racing 3 weekends back to back in Piacenza, Gippingen and Segovia. Training took a racing focus once I returned home, and I started to introduce some intensity in training, by adding a 10mile TT and crit race to my weekly sessions. This way, I could replicate the kind of riding I’d experienced in Sydney, and hopefully that would better prepare me for future road races.
Piacenza in Italy was the first stop of my little road trip and I was joined by Jon-Allan Butterworth to represent Para-T at the P1 event, the team’s first road race.
First up was a 58km 26lap crit around the town of Castel San Giovanni, and from the off, it was a fast race. With C4s and C5s racing at the same time, the attacks were going right from the first pedal stroke. Having learnt my lessons from Sydney, I tried to stay near the front of the race, and although a few went off the front I managed to stay in quite a select group of strong riders. I was feeling pretty good even though I was on my limit, but then, with a few mistimed accelerations and an increase in pace on the front the group started to get away. With a few laps on my own I was joined by a few riders who had been dropped earlier on and I worked with those guys until the end of the race. There was some confusion on the final lap of the race as the lead riders who’d broke away passed us on the start finish straight, effectively ending the race without our group sprinting for position, unfortunately I was pipped on the line and finished 7th. However, I was feeling good about my form and looking forward to the pan flat short 11km time trial the following the day. I managed to post a 14:26 which was good enough for 5th place and just 45seconds outside the winner Jiri Jezek. With my 5th place in the TT I managed to move up to 6th overall and score a few more valuable points for London.
Jody on the road - Image ©Copyright Christian Kelkel
After Piacenza it was a 6hr road transfer to the Black Forest where we were going to be based for the Gippingen P1 event. Although the race was in Switzerland, we based ourselves in Germany just across the border, as the roads to cycle on were perfect, offering 5 days of beautiful rides and some good rolling terrain. Gippingen started with a 16.2km TT around a hilly 8.1km loop. The first half of the loop went uphill, the middle was flat and then it went downhill to the finish. With the first lap done, I was feeling good about how things were going, and then my minuteman caught me at the foot of the climb for the 2nd lap. I wasn’t too fazed by this as he’d finished 2nd in the last 2 time trials I’d raced, so I knew he was strong. But going up the hill for the 2nd time, I lost all my momentum and it wasn’t until the flat section that I could find my rhythm again, by then the damage was done. I came across the line in 23.20, not a bad time but only good enough for 10th place.
The road race the following day was a tough affair and to be honest, I didn’t feature in the race at all. It was one of those days where my head and legs really didn’t want to do the same thing, and as we went up the 2nd part of the stepped 178m climb for the first time the race just rode away from me as I struggled to keep up, my legs really weren’t working well! I think 6 races in 13days might have been 1 too many for me, but I kept on and used the rest of the race as a training ride for the World Cup. I crossed the line in a lowly 17th place, one from last.
Segovia World Cup round 2
Jody - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
After the event in Gippingen I left my Para-T team to join the GB setup as we headed to Segovia.
The first 2 days of training we were greeted by torrential rain, but as the racing approached the weather picked up. First race up was the TT, a 21km race on a flat loop around the town of Valverde del Majano. It was going to be a quick race and I was hoping that the few easy days I’d had on the bike after the P1 events had been kind on my legs. Rolling down the start ramp and through the technical exit out of the town I quickly settled into a smooth fast rhythm and was relieved that my legs were feeling like mine again! With the long straight open roads the wind was going to play a big factor in the race, but with no real tailwind sections to speak of it was a tough ride. About half way through the 21km’s I had a bit of a disaster as my back went into spasm, and I could no longer maintain my aero position down on my ski’s of my TT bike, for the next 2minuntes or so I was struggling to hold my position while trying to release my back, all the time I could feel the seconds slipping away. Thankfully the pain and spasm subsided and I could get back to tiding the bike at speed. The last section of the race was the fastest as it made its way downhill into the town. I crossed the line in 28:06, not a bad time, but only good enough for 9thplace, at least it was a few more points in the bag.
￼The road race was 4 laps of a pretty boring 18.1km loop with the only interesting points being a small section on cobbles and a gentle rise after the start finish line for approx 2km. With the course being so flat I was feeling confident about my chances in the race, all I needed to do was stay upright and in the bunch. However with strong crosswinds on at least 12km of the course, positioning was going to be all important. As we raced through the first lap I was feeling good, my legs were feeling pretty good. Crossing the finish line the speed of the peloton increased as we went up the 2km rise, and with the 33°C heat searing down
I start I found myself struggling at the back of the bunch. Over the top of the rise I was about 50m off the back. Turning into the crosswind I put in a massive effort to get back on, eventually all the attacks failed to break clear, the bunch slowed enough for me to join again, however it wasn’t long until the attacks started again, and after the effort earlier I was spent, and watched the bunch drift off into the distance. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one, and after a few minutes of chasing the bunch it was clear that my chances of a bunch sprint had gone, but I was now joined by 3 other riders and we worked together to minimise the effects of the wind.
After doing our even share of working on the front, going into the last 3km I noticed there was a reluctance for anyone to come to the front. However as I knew the race was essentially over for me I was happy to lead into the last kilometre. Surprise surprise I was jumped by 2 of the riders I was with, I quickly accelerated onto their wheels, taking the last left hander I moved into 2nd, and waited to make my move, 250m to go and I got out of the saddle and applied my track speed and powered by. In the end I finished 50m clear of the riders I was with, if only I could have stayed in the peloton as I had the speed for the victory, especially as the race ended in a bunch sprint, instead I crossed the line in 14th, outside the important points.
With the Segovia World Cup done, I headed to Glasgow to do four stages in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain before getting back to my normal training programme and daily routine. Almost a little boring after all the travelling and racing this month, but it’s good to not live out of a bag or move hotel every week. Also it’s probably not for long, as there is more racing and exciting things to come.
Catch you soon,
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
Kit Issues, Good Friday & Sydney
by Jody Cundy
So much has happened since my last update, and also because I didn’t get chance to update you last month I’ve now got 2 busy months to fill you in on!
First up was the Good Friday Track Meet, the debut for my cycling team and first outing for the new kit. Actually, gettng the kit was the first hurdle to overcome: Due to the production times and delivery slots it was going to be tight to whether we’d actually have any kit to race in. Sure enough the last possible time (the day before!) the kit could be delivered, was when it was due to be delivered. Tracking it online, I could see it had arrived at the depot and was due for delivery, now I was just waiting for the buzzer in the flat to go off. By 3pm there was still no sign of the parcel, so I gave the company a ring to see where it was, but the response I received was not the one I expected “The driver tried to deliver at your address 10mins ago, there was no response and he’s bringing the parcel back to the depot!”. I wasn’t best pleased at this response, especially after I’d stayed in all day just to take this parcel. A few phone calls later and I’d arranged to pick it up from the depot, literally the last opportunity possible as the following day was a bank holiday, and the day of our race!
I breathed a sigh of relief when I took the kit out of the box and it looked as good as it did in the designs we’d received months before.
Jody Qualifying 10.995, 10th Place - ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
1st Round of the Sprint against Ross Edgar - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
My first race was the Flying 200m to qualify for the international Sprint competition and having only been on the track for a few sessions since the World Championships, it was going to be a bit rusty with my track skills. However, I qualified well, importantly under 11seconds and 10th overall with a 10.995, which considering the level of the field I was pretty pleased with.
Qualifying 10.995, 10th Place 1st Round of the sprint against Ross Edgar
The first round of the Sprint was a 3up and I was going to face a tough challenge as I was racing Ross Edgar. I gave it my all and with a lap to go I made my move, dropping down the track and getting the jump on my Dutch opponent and managed to get onto the shoulder of Ross, so it was now a straight drag race to the line. However, coming out of turn 4, I could see Ross had the better of me, but I think he had to work a lot harder than he was expecting to take that round.
￼In the repecharge, I rode well but for some reason I felt the urge to get out of the saddle when I was already doing 70km/h, not a good idea especially as I was trying to go around Itmar Esteban from Spain. Once again, I was 2nd best, and now out of the Sprint competition. But in both rounds I’d done myself proud and only been beaten by a
Repecharge against Itmar Esteban from Spain - image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
few cm’s on the line each time.
Next up was the 1Mile Dash, a 6lap Scratch race with all the losers from the Sprint competition and all the riders who didn’t make it through to the main competition. I got stuck in the bunch and went with the group as the speed increased and could feel the benefit of all the pursuit training I’d been doing in the last year. Coming out of the final corner I was in a good position and sprinting hard, but unfortunately I timed my run slightly too late and was pipped on the line. Nevertheless, I did come 2nd again by a few cm’s and I was happy, as it was my first podium finish in Para-T colours.
Last up was the Keirin. Buoyed by my performance in the Mile Dash I was feeling good about this race. As the derny peeled off the track, I made my move from the back of the field to the front. I had a quick look over my shoulder and realised I’d taken the other riders by surprise and had a gap, so I then went for it full gas. Unfortunately as I came across the line, I realised it was 2laps to go and I had some quality riders chasing me down, especially in Pete Mitchell who’d won the Sprint competition earlier in the day. Coming into turn 3 for the final time the inevitable happened and the two GB riders, Pete and Philip Hindes came past, as my legs finally faded. I could give no more.
A great debut for the team with some good results from Helen Scott, Jon-Allan Butterworth and Tel Byrne.
￼Team Para-T: Tel Byrne, Jody Cundy, Helen Scott, Jon-Allan Butterworth - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
￼Sydney Road World Cup – Travel
The day after the Good Friday meet was a trip to the airport and the start of my road season, with the target of scoring some all important qualification points for London. With all the bags and equipment checked in with British Airways it was a quick flight down from Manchester to Heathrow, before the longer journey onward to Sydney. In the end, it turned out to be a longer journey than normal to Sydney. With everybody on the plane, the pilots voice came over the PA system to announce that there was an electrical storm over Heathrow, and which would delay our departure by 15mins. However, after 15minutes the pilot was back on the PA system to tell us that there was a medical issue with someone on the plane and we weren’t flying until this had been resolved. Another 30minutes and passed and we were informed that it was a crewmember who had been taken ill, and now had to be taken off the plane, along with their luggage.
In the mean time a replacement crewmember needed to be found and the affected crew member removed from the plane, along with their luggage. Another 30mins and to a cheer from all the passengers on the plane a new crew member boarded, and we were all set to go. After the issues on the ground, the flight to Sydney was pretty straight forward, and with a quick refuel in Singapore we made it to Australia. After a long day travelling the next issue was collecting all the luggage and equipment we had brought with us for the trip. Not an easy task with 11 people and over 35pieces of luggage, most of it oversized with bike bags and boxes, wheels, hand cycles and kit bags. Although the Australian officials at the airport appeared reluctant to help we finally made it through customs, just to be delayed by yet another problem: the van we had, got stuck underneath the entrance to the car park, even though the hire car official told the driver to go that way! So we had to wait for another van to transport us to Wollongong where we would be based for the week prior to the world cup.
At the top of Bald Hill on Gran Pacific Drive, with Sea Cliff Bridge in the distance
Finally we made it to Wollongong just in time for breakfast, which was very welcome, and the view over the beach and the surf outside more than made up for the delays.
￼Sydney Road World Cup
After a week of training down in Wollongong with rides through the Royal National Park and on the grand pacific drive, the team was over the jet lag and all set to race in Sydney.
100m Fly Golden Brick
100m Backstroke Bronze Brick
Our hotel for the World Cup was in the Olympic Park overlooking the Sydney Olympic stadium, a venue I knew well and had good memories of, especially as 11years prior to this I was a swimmer winning 2 Golds and a Bronze at the 2000 Paralympic Games. One of the first things I did on arrival was go for a walk around the Aquatic centre, it felt like yesterday I was in there racing, although it’s changed since then. Unfortunately the 15,000-seat stand has been reduced, but I think it’s still one of my favourite sporting venues.
Relay Golden Brick
My next mission in the Olympic park was to find the water fountain that was made from the Olympic Flame Cauldron, as I’d been told that all medal winners from the 2000 Olympics and Paralympics had their names on a brick in the base. Sure enough with a bit of searching I found mine!
Once I’d reminisced, it was onto the job in hand which was the World Cup. With our hotel in the Olympic Park, checking out the TT course was going to be easy, and with a few laps done I had it all sorted even though it was going to be a technical course it would make for an interesting TT, certainly better than the normal GB straight out and back dual carriageway affair.
However, the TT was on the 2nd race day and first up was the Road Race, 8 laps (78.3km) around the Eastern Creek racing circuit and complex. Having only done a few races prior to this, it was going to be a learning experience, but the goal was to finish top 10. Although I got dropped early on in the race, and with part of the course going up and down the drag strip out of the back of the course, riding on my own into the headwind in this section was pretty depressing, especially as I could see the field get further and further away with each lap. I managed to persevere and make it to the finish to cross the line 9th in the C4 category, which importantly scored points for the London qualification process.
The following day was the time trial, and thankfully the course was dry. In fact, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, which compared to the wet week we’d had in Wollongong was welcome.
￼￼With 4 laps of the Olympic park course it was a case of going as fast as possible and trying to hold as much speed as possible through the technical bends. At the end of the 22km I crossed the line in 6th place just 90seconds down on the leader. Although I hadn’t won, I had moved up the field compared to the road race and scored some more important qualification points.
Well my next update will be much sooner as I’ve already ridden Piacenza and Gippingen, and will be racing the 2nd round of the World Cup in Sergovia Spain this weekend.
Catch you soon.
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
500 Days to go!
by Jody Cundy
Can’t believe it, this coming Sunday when thousands of people will be running the London marathon, another milestone on the run in to the Paralympics rolls around, 500 days to go!
All of a sudden the Paralympics in London are becoming very real, and I couldn’t be more excited. With the world track championships all done and dusted for another year, it’s time to switch focus to the road, but not before hitting the track at the Good Friday meet, which for the first time in a few years won’t be rained off as it’s moved away from the outdoors of Herne Hill velodrome in London to the indoor velodrome, and my home track Manchester. The event is going to be the racing debut for the team I helped set up, and all our riders are down to ride, I can’t wait to pull on my skinsuit in the Para-T colours for the first time, and fingers crossed the couriers manage to deliver it in time! I’m going to be racing in the international sprint and keirin, which is a change from the normal track racing I do, which is usually me against the clock, but with others riders on the track elbow to elbow, it should be good fun.
Following the Good Friday meeting my road season really kicks off as I fly out to Sydney for the 1st round of the Paracycling road world cup series. I’m part of a small team of 8 riders heading down under aiming to score more essential points for the London qualification process. First up with have a 9- 10day training and acclimatisation camp in Wollongong, and then we head into Sydney and to the Eastern Creek raceway for a 75.6km road race, and then a few days later it’s a 24.8km technical (tight and twisty) time trial around the Sydney Olympic park in Homebush Bay.
Since the world championships I’ve had a very chilled few weeks and been busy with a few appearances. I returned to my home town to give an after dinner speech at the Rotary Club of Wisbech’s 74th Charter Night. I was also present in Salford Quays at the opening of the 2nd of 8 nationwide volunteer selection centres, where over 5000 people will be interviewed for an opportunity to volunteer at the London 2012 games.
As a team we had a day of meetings at the Celtic Manor in Newport Wales, a venue that we’ll be seeing more of in the future, as it will be our base for the holding camp into the London Paralympics. During our day of meetings we had chance to find out what was in store for the next 500 days and how the team was planning to take us forward. We also had an update about the now complete velodrome and the equipment that we’re developing for London, as well as a fitting session with Adidas ￼and Next who will be providing the sportswear and formal wear for the Paralympic team in London. With my new found endurance legs it turns out that in the quest for qualification points I’m going to be racing more than I ever have, so should be an exciting year. However we did hear some disappointing news, the UCI have decided for no apparent reason to change the rules for the Paracycling team sprint event, and have reduced the number of points a valid team can be comprised of. It’s an odd change of rules as the top 4 teams from the recent world championships are now deemed to be illegal under the new rules. As world champions we’ll never be able to ride all together in the world stripes we earned in Montichiari, and the WR we set will no longer be valid. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement and I have no idea why it happened, but the UCI are famous for this and we’ll just have to adapt our team and continue to challenge at the very top. However, I will enquire to find out why, as it seems like such a strange rule change at a particular sensitive time in a Paralympic cycle, and is bound to upset and disrupt many riders who were aiming to ride the team sprint in London.
Jody Cundy - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
Next week I will be at the Lee Valley White Water Rafting Park, for the official opening of the first Olympic venue that will be open to the general public prior to the games next year. It’s going to be a scary and exciting day as by the sound of it I’m in a raft with a bunch of others to test out the course, oh boy the things I have to do! I also have my rider review, where I’ll sit down with my coach and managers and discuss how the last 12months have gone, and how I can maximise my performance and make sure no stone is unturned on route to London.
Catch you all soon, with hopefully good news from down under.
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel