British Cycling’s world-leading GB Para-cycling team has today launched a talent identification drive to find new female Paralympic champions for the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Above: Paralympic medallist Karen Darke: "There is no better feeling than being on a podium at a Paralympic Games and feeling an immense sense of pride and achievement at being crowned the world’s best."
The drive, aimed at filling the potential medal gaps that currently exist among the current female para-cycling squad, is being backed by Paralympic medallist, Karen Darke.
UK-passport holding sporty women and girls with a desire to be the world’s best are being invited to contact British Cycling. Talent Assessment events will take place in October.
British Cycling is looking for women across all para-cycling classifications – from those with a minor or major impairment to a limb, to those who are visually impaired or have spinal injuries. Amputees or women with cerebral palsy are also encouraged to get in touch.
London 2012 Paralympic silver medallist, Karen Darke, said:
"There really is no limit to what can be done and I’d advise all sporty women and girls out there to dream big."
Paralympic silver medallist Karen Darke
“There is no better feeling than being on a podium at a Paralympic Games and feeling an immense sense of pride and achievement at being crowned the world’s best. With a commitment and drive to succeed at the highest level, a structured programme and a great team behind you, there really is no limit to what can be done and I’d advise all sporty women and girls out there to dream big. There is nothing to lose in applying to British Cycling and so, so much to be gained.”
British Cycling’s Paralympic Talent and Development Manager, Harriet Gordon, said:
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for women and girls with an impairment to see if they’ve got what it takes to be part of a Gold medal winning programme for Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.
“We’re the best para-cycling nation in the world and I’d strongly recommend that sporty women get in touch. We’re especially keen to hear from women who competed in sport before an accident and might be ready to give it another shot. Similarly, friends or family members of women with potential are invited to get in touch to put them forward. In just three years time in Rio it could just turn out to be the best decision they’ve ever made.”
Seventeen year old Sophie Thornhill from Stockport is a visually impaired cyclist who joined the Paralympic Development Programme in May 2013. She is piloted by Megan Boyd who she met through her local cycling club. Thornhill said:
“I was born with Oculocutaneous albinism which basically means I’ve got about 10% of my sight. My ultimate goal is to compete at the Paralympics in Rio, but I’d also like to go to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year. This year, my target is the National Track Championships. I’d like to get a couple of National titles.”
The GB Para-cycling team is looking for women and girls who meet the following criteria:
- Aged 16+
- An existing UK Passport holder (or being eligible for one)
- A sporty background (although not necessarily at national level)
- The team is looking for women and girls across all para-cyling classifications including those who are visually impaired, lower limb amputees (single or double, above or below knee), cerebral palsy, spinal injuries, minor impairments (such as mild impairment to one arm, moderate impairment to one leg, loss of part of the arm).
- A desire and determination to be the world’s best
- Ability to commit to the programme
Women and girls who meet the criteria should email firstname.lastname@example.org with their name, phone number, and a brief description of their impairment. The GB Para-cycling Team will then gather further information and those who fit the bill will be invited to a Talent Assessment event. No prior experience of riding on a velodrome track is necessary.