The Final Push

The first week in July saw all the GB Para-cycling team members who had been selected for the 2012 London Paralympics, travel to and stay at the St Pierre & Country Club in Chepstow for the week, while we trained at the National Velodrome in Newport. This hotel will be our venue for our holding camp before the transition up to London one week before the games.

The first week of my training on the track was a small shock to my system, having had only two weeks back on the track in Manchester after my training abroad and now with my legs finding their power again, the efforts on the track were going to be increased every day to maximise my improvements for London over the next two weeks.

On the Sunday 8th July, fellow Para-cyclist and Paralympic Gold medallist Jody Cundy MBE and I were invited to take part in a SKY ride for the public at the Velodrome in Newport as part of the celebrations of 50 days to go before the start of the 2012 London Paralympics. The day was organised to invite the public to take part in safe cycling with trained staff on the roads around Newport. Jody and I had a fab time and made lots of new cycling friends, who also enjoyed their cycling experiences around the coastline roads in the sun.

My second week of track training in Newport saw me and my legs finally start to see some progress. The first week was more like a baptism of fire for me trying to achieve some really fast times on the boards, as well as get used to training at maximum on every effort. The week session was broken up with a 3 hour road ride with two of the team members who really enjoyed the Welsh countryside, apart from the rain which was warm but very wet!

While I was on the camp in Newport, I had the pleasure of being interviewed over the telephone by Stuart Lieberman from the International Paralympic Committee. The IPC (www.paralympic.org) oversee all Paralympic sports across the globe, so it was my pleasure to share my epic life changing story with Stuart and to explain just how my life has changed since becoming a Para-cyclist and also a Paralympic hopeful. I had to explain who “Dewi the Dragon” was and how he was going to help me in London, as my Paralympic mascot.

On 13th July, my-self and the team went to the Crown Plaza Hotel in Central London to have our official suit fitting for the 2012 London Paralympic Games, supplied by retailer Next. It was a brilliant experience for me and everyone who attended, as this was the first time we all had the chance to mingle with our fellow ParalympicsGB athletes from all the other sports who are going to compete in London in August and September.

The journey back to Manchester that night was very slow and certainly a long one, having taken us 6 hours to drive back, as the traffic was bedlam. The next day I was keen to get back on my bike and felt really good on my 2 hour road ride on my TT bike, which was thankfully spent in the sunshine.

Monday 16th July saw the start of my 6 week double training sessions on the track, with me having to do a road ride in the morning, then a full on track session in the afternoon, plus, gym twice a week. I do honestly enjoy these sessions; it’s just a case of working hard and then sleeping through the tiredness before the benefits are seen a few weeks later.

Mid July, I was invited by 2012 London Paralympic partner Deloitte, to a private function to share my experience and my life changing story with some of their young clients in Manchester. Deloitte who is the professional services supporter for both of the London 2012 games and who is among the country’s leading professional services firms, providing audit, tax, consulting and corporate finance services. My talk went really well and I had the pleasure of holding a 2012 Olympic torch, it felt rather serial to actually be holding a real one, however, the evening was a great success and enjoyed by all. On times I still have to pinch myself to realise that I am actually doing what I am doing for my country and it was my pleasure to talk and network with such a fabulous group of professionals.

My last week of training in July saw my track sessions increased and also my time spent on the TT bike. This extra amount of training helps me to overload my body before I start my final few weeks of preparation, for the biggest challenge of my Para-cycling career at the 2012 London Paralympics.

The end of July saw my-self and fellow GB Para-cycling team member Jody Cundy MBE, attend a BBC radio interview called “world have your say” at the Manchester National Velodrome. The interview was live across the World and covered the global excitement that the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics had created. The interview went really well and especially after Bradley Wiggins had just won the Tour De France two days previous, so everyone was on a GB high.

As the biggest sporting event on the planet began at the end of July, the 2012 London Olympic fever hit the UK with style. We saw hundreds of millions of people across the globe watch the opening ceremony in awe and with only 4 weeks to go before the 2012 London Paralympics start, the whole of the UK will be behind every one of our ParalympicsGB athletes.

I am so excited to be a GB Para-cyclist competing at a home Paralympic Games, knowing that very soon I will not only be racing on the same track as Sir Chris Hoy, but with 6500 screaming fans in the stands. This is something that really does get me fired up to do well. I wish all Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes all the very best for the Games and make Britain proud by doing your absolute best!

500 Days To Go!

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.

Jody Cundy - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel

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.

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.

Jody
 
 
 
 
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel

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