UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships Los Angeles, USA – ©Christina Kelkel
It’s almost over. All the hype and build up to 2012, the Olympics, the Paralympics, and here we are about to head into 2013.
What a year for sport, and amazing to have played a small part in it!
Back in February my season kicked off in sunny Los Angeles, where I was racing at the Para-Cycling World Track Championships.
They turned out to be an interesting championship, in the Team Sprint riding with Darren Kenny and Sarah Storey we suffered our first defeat since 2006, taking silver behind the Chinese, who had found an amazing man 1 that really did make the difference to their team. In the 4km Pursuit, qualifying was interesting, as there was an official standing on the track in the back straight! Cue a restart, and I managed to post the 3rd quickest time. In the Bronze medal final I tried to learn from my pacing issues in qualifying. However after the 1st kilometre I could see my opponent and decided to chase him downrather than doing a full 4km. After 5 3Ž4 laps I’d caught and over taken Roberto Alcaide from Spain to take the Bronze medal.
In the kilo I managed to maintain my unbeaten record to take the 1km title in 1:06.001. Not my best ride, actually the first time I’ve won at the worlds without breaking the WR, but still it was good enough to take my 5th consecutive world title and the coveted rainbow bands. So LA turned out to be a mixed bag of results, but I did get a full set of medals!
After the worlds it was back to training and preparations for the London Paralympics. Another visit to Majorca for another 10day training camp kick started the final cycle off. It ended with me heading to the Tower of London for a bit of modelling and showing off the Adidas kit that all the GB athletes would be racing in at the home games.
In between all the training, with the build-up to the games I ended up doing quite a bit of publicity, the most fun was the 3 part Sainsbury’s short films, and the Paralympic promo video for Channel4. Some of the shots in the films were pretty cool, and due to the way they were filmed, they gave you an insight into track cycling that you just don’t normally see.
Para-Cycling Track at London 2012 Paralympic Games – ©Christina Kelkel
With the year flying by, the Olympics came and went, and before you knew it, I was at the holding camp in Newport, putting the final touches to my preparations for London. Things were looking good, as I PB’d in pretty much every session on the holding camp, just one little hiccup was a crash on day 2, but I survived with just a friction burn on my hip and elbow. A massive relief considering I hit the deck at 75kph!
Then it was time to race, with the kilo up first I was ready to go, with all my competitors going before me I was feeling really confident as I stepped on the track, especially as the fastest time was still half a second slower than my Beijing winning time and still some 9/10ths of a second slower than my WR, and I was going faster than ever now. I just needed to race at my best and that was it, unfortunately it all started to go wrong in a big way! I made my start just as I have countless times in training, however something was wrong, the gate held me, the next thing I know I’m wheel spinning and going sideways. Not ideal. So I stuck my hand up, and called for a mishap, pulled off the track and got ready to take to the start again. However that was it, I was unfairly denied a 2nd start, and that was it, a big fat DNF next to me name, and what followed wasn’t my proudest moment, but it will go down in Paralympic history in the same way as John McEnroe’s outburst at Wimbledon in 1981.
I basically threw all the toys out of my pram at anybody who would listen, in denial that I wouldn’t be defending my kilo title, and was removed from the velodrome. Knowing I was out of order I wanted to apologise, and try to put things right, at least to all the kids that had witnessed my foul mouthed tirade. So a little later I came back out to apologise to everyone in the crowd, then to the sponsors and governing bodies and organisers in a press conference and media scrum. Then finally I headed back to the village as I had to compose myself and come back and race the 4km pursuit the following day.
With the crowd behind me I ripped around the velodrome in qualifying to a new British Record, and 3rd best time. In the final I made short work of my opponent and took Bronze with an overtake in 51Ž4 laps. I covered the first 1km quicker than the winning time from the previous day. Considering the disappointment the day before, and the fact I hadn’t focussed on the pursuit as I placed all my eggs in the kilo basket, a bronze medal really did feel like winning gold. Having watched the footage back, it looks like I started the tiniest of fraction too early hence the gate held me when I pulled forward. Unfortunately though, the false start wasn’t called by the commissaires, so I didn’t get the immediate restart the rules state.
London will always be memorable for me for some amazing highs and some equally amazing lows, but I’m glad I can say I was there and I won a medal in front of the best and noisiest crowd anyone can ask for.
My racing year finished with a few more races on the track, a bronze medal in the Team Sprint at nationals, a 2nd place in the flying lap at the Revolution track series, and in my final race of 2012, a win in the 10mile scratch race in the final round of the MRTL Premier Division track league.
2013 will be a really important year for training, as I plan my revenge in Rio. On the way to 2016 I have also set myself the ambitious target of riding for England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. So the hard work starts again, and my motivation is sky high.
Thanks to all my family, friends and supporters and all my sponsors!
See you in 2013, and happy cycling.
GB Mixed Sprint Para Team - Darren Kenny, Sarah Storey & Jody Cundy - ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
The final day of the competition saw Jody racing in the Mixed Team Sprint alongside Darren Kenny and Sarah Storey. The GB team started into the competition as defending Champions and WR holders, however a rule change after last year’s World Championships – allowing fewer points per team – had forced the British coaches to reorganise their Team Sprint line-up. So today’s race was “a complete mystery” as Jody put it before the competition.
Tension was on after the Chinese posted a time of 51.152 but GB’s Darren Kenny got the team off to a great start. With Sarah loosing a little bit of time on lap two however, it was down to Jody to secure GB a ride in the final. And Jody did just that crossing the line in 51.114, only .038 ahead of China.
With both teams that close, it was obvious that the final for Gold would be a tough one for Darren, Sarah and Jody. And disaster stroke at the start of the first lap already, when Sarah slipped through the attachment on her handlebar, which she uses to compensate for the lack of grip caused by her disability. Sarah said “ I slipped out of it in the first banking which gave me an even bigger gap on Darren than this morning. The one thing that has never happened before, happened today, which is very annoying.”
Having issues with her handlebars, Sarah struggled to get onto Darren’s wheel and more importantly into his slipstream. Unsurprisingly then, GB was down after lap two and it was down to Jody again to try to make up the lost time. Unfortunately for him though, the damage was already done and the time gap too big to make up, so the GB team had to settle for Silver in a time of 51.175 behind the Chinese who rode a 50.564. The first time since 2007 that Great Britain has not won the Team Sprint title.
Team GB out the gate - UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships Los Angeles, USA - ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
After the race, Jody said “We gave it all, but we lost to the better team today. Unfortunately, we had some issue with Sarah’s handlebar attachment, which had a deadly knock on effect. She lost Darren’s wheel so she didn’t get the benefit of his slipstream and as a result faded more towards the end of her lap. As a consequence, the delivery speed dropped so my lap wasn’t as fast as it could have been neither.”
Looking at the positives, Sarah commented, “We rode the same time (as in the qualifying) with a problem, and that problem cost us a lot of time. However, it would be worse to come away from this situation knowing there was nothing we could do, but we’ve got so many things that we can do now.”
One of these things will be to add more Team Sprint training into their programs, as Jody explained, “I think if we had practiced more, we could have been better. Maybe we have been a bit complacent with the Team Sprint because we’ve always won it comfortably, but we literally did our trial and no practice. Effectively, we had only done one training session in this line up, so it’s probably our own fault for not practicing.”
However, Jody and the rest of the team feel confident that they can win back the Team Sprint crown in London. Jody said: “We’ve got a lot of things technically, that we can pick up easy, free speed. The Team Sprint race has been a lot more competitive than we expected, but we’re not a million miles off from where we were last year and from where we need to be right now. I don’t think we’re out of this at all, I think we’re in a strong place for London.”
Silver on the Podium - ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
Although these World Championships have not been Jody’s most successful ones, he emphasized the fact that the London Paralympic Games are his main focus for 2012 “We have been working incredibly hard, but there is still a lot more work to do for London. I’ve defended my kilo title and picked up a silver and a bronze in the team sprint and pursuit, so I cant complain. What has been really amazing though is the support myself and the team have been getting from the fans back home! I’d like to say thank you to all of you, it really does mean a lot to me and I can’t wait to get to London and perform in front of a home crowd!”
Jody will now enjoy a brief holiday with his family in Los Angeles, before returning to the UK and starting his intensive preparations in the run up to the Paralympic Games.
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.