“We hope that our project will help people with disabilities find life at the other end of the tunnel thanks to cycling or any other sport.”
Italian tandem Pierre Amighini and Stefano Cecini took to the track to raise awareness of Para cycling with an exhibition on the final day of competition at the UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships.
The duo attempted to ride as far as possible in one hour. Although it was not an official attempt on the UCI Hour Record, the two athletes achieved their goal of showcasing their sport to a large number of young athletes as well as to the spectators who had packed the velodrome to watch the competition.
In January 2016, Pierre Amighini, once a competitive cyclist, contracted a rare disease in both eyes that took 82 per cent of his sight in the following fourteen months. But the former athlete was not going to lie down and let fate take over; after learning to walk again with the help of a stick, he began covering 10-15km a day to conserve muscle tone before returning to the bike using a static roller.
His determination inspired a local businessman to buy him a tandem, and the director of a Sports Centre to allow him to use its facilities for his daily training. A meeting with former cycling rival Stefano Cecini followed and the tandem team was born.
Together, the athletes are trying to push the message “sport from another viewpoint” and will be visiting schools to talk to students and work with them on this theme.
“We hope that our project will help people with disabilities find life at the other end of the tunnel thanks to cycling or any other sport,” said Amighini.
A burst tyre caused them to crash on the Montichiari velodrome on Sunday. Although riding at over 43km/h, they escaped with minor abrasions and once the wheel had been changed they were straight back on the bike. “In a way, it was a metaphor about life. We fell and it seemed as though all was lost, but we managed to get up again and continue,” added Amighini.
That same determination has prompted the tandem to set itself the major goal of competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. In parallel, they will continue their programme in schools and work to raise awareness of Para sports.
Amighini’s message is clear: “Do not discriminate against my disability, include me for my skills.”
Full story is available on UCI's website.