It was a day of mixed emotions at the Velodrome for Great Britain’s Paralympic cyclists, with five medals for squad taking their overall tally to seven; Gold and a new world record for Mark Colbourne in the C1 Individual Pursuit was the day’s undoubted highpoint; a DNF for Jody Cundy in the C4/5 Kilo the irrefutable low. In between lay a trio of silver medals for McGlynn/Scott, Butterworth and McKeown and a bronze medal for Paralympic veteran Darren Kenny; thus all the shades of medal and emotion were on display at the end of a frenetic day two.
For 42 year old Welshman Colbourne the day was a continuation of the euphoria he experienced on day one, when the Paralympic debutant picked up silver in the C123 kilo. Today’s emphatic gold medal ride in the C1 pursuit only increased the already broad smile on the Tredegar man’s face: “I keep pinching myself,” said Colbourne, who got involved in Paralympic cycling after a horrific paraglider accident in 2009. “I had this dream two years ago along with Neil Smith (his trainer). And fair play to Neil. He said keep working hard and your dream will become a reality.”
Speaking to Channel 4 Colbourne revealed that his ride went exactly to plan, the steady start part of the schedule designed to get the best from the powerful Welshman’s physiology:
“With this type of race you have to take your mind off who you are racing against,” said Colbourne. “If I go flat out with six or seven laps gone I fill up with lactic acid and struggle for the later laps. We trained so that I could sustain a Bradley Wiggins-style pace from start to finish. Our plan worked.”
Colbourne went on to dedicate his ride to his family members, including his late father, who died recently after a battle with stomach cancer: "I want to dedicate this gold to my late father and my mother who is in the crowd, and to my daughter."
Colbourne’s delight was in sharp contrast to the disappointment of Jody Cundy in the C4/5 Kilo, the Wisbech born rider exiting the competition after being denied a restart, following a starting gate incident. Cundy left the track with a tirade of anger and bitter disappointment, accompanied by a crowd booing at what seemed a harsh commissaring decision.
“I've wasted four years of my life to ride in front of 6,000 people," said Cundy shortly after the mis-start amid an expletive filled rant. “Do you know what it's like to dedicate four years of your life? I can't even express it. I'll never, ever get this opportunity again. Never, ever. What am I supposed to do now?"
However, the reigning Paralympic champion later addressed the crowd to apologise for letting them down and reacting so passionately to his disqualification, looking ahead to his next appearance in the pursuit.
Alongside Cundy in the C4/5 Kilo was Jon-Allan Butterworth, the 26 year old claiming silver, just 38 hundredths shy of gold medal winner Cabello of Spain. “It's amazing,” said Butterworth after his medal ride. “The crowd really got behind me and it was a great feeling."
There was a silver lining for Aileen McGlynn and Helen Scott in the Blind 1km TT, coming second to world champions and world record holders Australia.
Speaking to Channel 4 after their medal ride McGlynn admitted that it would have been nice to retain her Paralympic title but was "really happy to get silver and a personal best." 39 year old McGlynn also took the opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous support of the home crowd: "It was amazing - thanks to the crowds who come out to cheer us on - it's a massive help - we're really glad we had that home support."
Helen Scott, who replaced McGlynn's Beijing pilot Ellen Hunter in 2010, commented: "We've had the best year ever this past year. We equalled our personal best on the biggest stage so we'll just keep on working on it and hopefully one day we'll be able to get that gold medal."
The third silver of the day went to Shaun McKeown, who put up a brave fight against Joe Berenyi of the USA in the C3 pursuit. 32 year old McKeown from Lewisham only came into the GB Para-Cycling squad in 2009 and his progression has been swift, leading the rider to the gold medal rideoff in his first Paralympics. Alongside McKeown in the C3 pursuit was teammate Darren Kenny, who claimed an emphatic bronze and new world record after, by his own admission, a disappointing ride in qualification.