Louis Rolfe excited to make UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships debut

Louis Rolfe excited to make UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships debut

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“Over the moon to have been selected for the world track championships at the end of March, looking forward to getting out there and doing my best, still living the dream.”

That is the latest entry on 17-year-old para-cyclist Louis Rolfe’s blog, documenting his progress so far in the British Cycling Paralympic Development Programme, progress which will see him take to the track on Thursday 26 March at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Apeldoorn as the youngest member of the 14-rider squad.

But meeting @RocketRolfe (his chosen Twitter handle), one is struck by a person not prone to histrionics, a level-headed yet optimistic, grounded athlete that coach Jon Norfolk describes as “an experienced head on young shoulders”.

Louis has cerebral palsy and competes in the C2 class, describing himself as an all-rounder, riding the kilometre time trial, pursuit and team sprint events, alongside talents that inspired him to take up the sport back in 2012.

“It will be really exciting to compare myself to people I've been watching on the TV since 2012,” said Rolfe, alluding to Great Britain’s triumphal showing at the London Paralympic Games, where the team won five gold, seven silver and three bronze on the track alone.

“I was really inspired by 2012 and in December of 2012 I went to a para-fest and I got tested by GB,” Rolfe continued.

“My results were good. About a month later they got in contact with me saying that they wanted to see me more and I got accepted onto the development programme in May 2013 after having three taster sessions with them.

“That was a real milestone in my development and it made me think that I could actually do this - this could actually be my career going forward.”

Progress has been as rapid as Rolfe’s Twitter handle would suggest.

At January’s Newport Para-cycling International he came away with two medals; bronze (and a British record) in the pursuit and silver in the team sprint.

“I feel nervous but at the same time I feel excited because it's my first time going against the world's best,” admitted Rolfe, who hails from cycling mad city Cambridge, just a few miles down the road from hero Jody Cundy’s hometown of Wisbech.

Like many of his teammates, Rolfe rides a diverse selection of events, straddling the sprint and endurance spectrum, a situation he’s happy with as he’s still at the beginning of a journey to discover his full potential and where his talents lie.

“In the last five weeks or so, after Newport, I've really been focussing on that (team sprint) man one position and my sprint capabilities,” he said.

“To be honest at the moment I'm happy to be an all-rounder really because I've still got a good base endurance.

“It's a really exciting prospect of where I could go and how I will develop in the next year and a half.”

A year-and-a-half away lies Rio but Rolfe is in no rush to go too far, too soon, perhaps a product of a robust system in the Great Britain Para-cycling Team that ensures athletes are allowed to develop at their own rate, without neglecting the fundamentals of success and lessons learned along the way.

When asked if Rio was too early in his development, Rolfe was characteristically level headed. “I think it is at the rate I'm progressing at the moment,” he said.

“But I'll just have to see. I'm taking every day as it comes at the moment and yes Rio would be fantastic but I'll still be a young athlete at 2020 so I'm not counting my chickens yet.”

Louis will begin his UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships on Thursday 26 March with the C2 kilometre time trial.

Live reporting, results, images and reaction will appear on the British Cycling website.