“I don’t have a coach at home, so I am learning a lot in Switzerland. I will change how I train after this camp.”
The second para-cycling training camp of the year at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland, has wrapped up.
Eighteen athletes from eight countries, as well as two coaches, spent nearly two weeks of intensive training on the UCI WCC velodrome, complemented by sessions on the road, on Wattbikes and in the gym. Some of the athletes flew directly to Great Britain for the Manchester Paracycling Track International between 13-15 November.
While in Switzerland, athletes benefitted from expert coaching from UCI WCC coaches and an external UCI-certified expert coach.
UCI WCC Director Frédéric Magné expressed his satisfaction with the training camp: “Hosting para-cycling training camps is a relatively new venture for the WCC and we are delighted by the success of our first two camps. It is an incredibly positive experience for all the centre’s staff and athletes to have these para-cyclists training here. We look forward to following their progress through to Rio 2016.”
More than 40 applications were received for the limited number of places available.
“There has been a tremendous response to our first two training camps, which have been organised with the support of the UCI Para-cycling Commission,” said UCI Para-cycling Coordinator Christopher Bifrare. “As the discipline continues to develop and becomes increasingly professional, we aim to help athletes and nations remain competitive on the international para-cycling scene.”
He pointed out that this was particularly important in this pre-Paralympic season, adding that the UCI and WCC planned to stage two more training camps before Rio 2016: one for track before the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in March, and another for road before a round of the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup.
A brief look at some of the participants:
Jerry Towey (C4), Ireland
“Rio is about who wants it the most.”
Those words from Cycling Ireland’s Head Coach Brian Nugent have stuck in Jerry Towey’s mind. He even has them pasted on the wall of his gym.
As a relative newcomer to the sport in 2012, Towey watched much of the London 2012 Paralympics on television but is determined to make it to Rio next year.
Having daily access to an indoor velodrome during the UCI WCC camp has been like a dream for Towey, who lives several hours’ drive away from Ireland’s outdoor track.
“I couldn’t believe how big an opportunity it was to come here. I have learnt a lot to do with technique, gate starts, pacing myself, gearing, cadence... it’s been absolutely amazing,” Towey said.
Athanasios Barakas (B), and Konstantinos Troulinos (pilot), Greece
Athanasios Barakas and his tandem pilot have been riding together for only 10 months. They live in different parts of the country, which means most of their training is carried out separately.
“The last time we trained together was in May,” Troulinos said. “So this camp has been very important to us to get more synchronised, improve our technique and tactics and plan our training.”
Barakas has already competed in four Paralympic Games as a long jumper, winning gold in Sydney 2000 and bronze eight years later in Beijing. For his fifth Paralympic participation, he fully intends to compete on a bike. He is in good company - his pilot has 20 years’ experience and competed at London 2012 riding with another Greek athlete.
Megan Fisher (C4), USA
USA Cycling had four women para-cyclists on the training camp, all of whom have an impressive record on the international para-cycling scene.
Among them is Megan Fisher, a gold and silver medal Paralympic cyclist and 10-time UCI World Champion who has her eyes set on qualification for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“It’s a dream come true being here, riding on the track, in the mountains, on the BMX track,” said Fisher, who is also a doctor in physical therapy. “Just getting time on the track and someone else’s input is so valuable.”
Alem Mumuni (C2), Ghana
“I am here to get the highest-qualified coaching advice I can,” Mumuni said. “I don’t have a coach at home, so I am learning a lot in Switzerland. I will change how I train after this camp.”
Mumuni made headlines in 2012 when he became the first para-cyclist in his country to be selected for the Paralympic Games. Illness during the week of competition ruined his Paralympic campaign but he hopes for another shot at Rio 2016. Whatever happens, he means to use what he has learned at the UCI WCC to help up and coming para-cyclists in Ghana.
“If I stopped cycling today, there would be nobody to replace me. I will definitely become a coach,” Mumuni said.