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Maniago 2018: Arna Albertsdottir inspiring Iceland

Para cyclist paves the way for others as she prepares for Road Worlds 01 Aug 2018
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female Para cyclist Arna Albertsdottir in action on the road

Arna Albertsdottir is the first Para cyclist to compete for Iceland at the Road World Championships

ⒸArna Abertsdottir
By UCI

"I still have a lot to learn and experience to gain. I've had a couple of injuries and illnesses that have interfered with my training, especially this year, but overall I've been doing well."

After making history at the 2015 edition, Arna Albertsdottir is aiming to inspire more people in Iceland to take up Para cycling when she competes at this month’s Road World Championships. The 28-year-old became the first Icelandic cyclist to compete at the Road Worlds three years ago, when she took part in the women’s time trial and road race H3 events.

Back then, Albertsdottir admitted she was “the only one in Iceland who hand-bikes competitively. There are probably 10 hand-bikes in the whole country and I own two of them.”

But this changed after she paved the way for more people to try out the sport following her 2015 performance in Nottwil, Switzerland.

"I'm very pleased to say that there are a few other hand-cyclists in Iceland now, and I'm sure that they will start racing very soon."

Tough training

Since bursting onto the international scene, Albertsdottir has been working hard to improve her cycling skills despite Iceland’s cold weather which makes it hard to practice outdoor sports during the winter.

"The bike is in my living room for at least six months of the year," she said. "Luckily my dad works at an airport and, as there are only two flights a day, I sometimes get to ride the runway!

“I've definitely learned a lot, both with more training and racing.

“In my first big race in 2015 I really had no idea what I was getting into, and I still have a lot to learn and experience to gain. I've had a couple of injuries and illnesses that have interfered with my training, especially this year, but overall I've been doing well."

Albertsdottir has also had some opportunities to attend training camps abroad. "I do most of my training in Iceland, and a lot on the trainer inside, at least six months of the year.

“This winter I went to Mallorca, which was very enjoyable. February in Mallorca was better than the Icelandic summer - we've been having one of the worst summers for 100 years; it's been very cold and wet.

"I do get a lot of support and still have the same trainer, but we've added some new trainers to our team. They have been very helpful, both with experience in endurance training and cycling. My equipment is pretty much the same but that will hopefully get updated for next season."

Despite the difficulties, Albertsdottir is still focused on her goal of representing her country at the Paralympics. "Yes, that is still my goal for 2020; it's optimistic, but I think it's mentally good to have big goals to focus on."