With only a handful of major competitions for the Paralympic Track cyclists since the London 2012 games, the 2014 World Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico in April held extra importance. It the first qualifying event towards the Rio Games of 2016 and it was also the first opportunity to see how we compared against the rest of the world. It would also be the first time that I raced internationally with new up-and-coming pilot Pete Mitchell.
There’s always several challenges competing at the World Champions, the main this time being the conditions in Mexico would be unlike anything we had raced in before. The velodrome is based at a moderate altitude, which means that bikes would travel a little bit faster due to the thinner air, but there would be less oxygen to breathe, coupled with the fact that the velodrome would reach temperatures as high as 43 degrees centigrade, not ideal!
To prepare for this I spent the 5 weeks prior to travelling to Mexico sleeping in an altitude tent mimicking the oxygen levels at various altitudes. Sleeping in there enabled my body to get used to coping with reduced oxygen and so when we got there I was able to adapt much quicker.
All this targeted preparation and a very tough and consistent training regime paid off as we not only won both of our events, the 1km Time Trial and the Match Sprint, but we also broke both world records. Even more amazing is that we went under two major barriers, achieving two of my main ambitions in cycling. Breaking the 1 minute barrier for the 1km Time Trial, and breaking the 10 second barrier for the flying 200m.
It is always tough to reset your goals after an achievement like this, it can be tough to get back into the swing of things, fortunately for me, I have the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to look forward to. I achieved the qualifying time for the Games with Scottish pilot Craig Maclean in November of last year and so it means we can now solely focus on peaking for the event. We will have some very stiff competition in Glasgow and so we need to be at the top of our game if we are to succeed, but if all goes to plan we will be challenging for the win in both events.
I am really excited about competing in front of a home crowd again. The London Paralympics was an amazing experience and I feel incredibly fortunate to have competed at a home Paralympics with a home Commonwealth Games following on just 2 years later. Fingers crossed all the preparation will have been worth it!