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Para-Cyclist Colin Lynch ready to hold his own at Rio 2016

05/11/2015
Para-Cyclist Colin Lynch ready to hold his own at Rio 2016

At four years old, Colin Lynch moved from England to Canada and made the country his home for the next thirty years.  Following an accident in his late teens and the subsequent amputation of his left leg, he eventually went on to compete professionally in para-cycling.  He currently represents Ireland, his father’s homeland, at the Paralympic level. Aged 45 years old Colin will be competing for a gold medal in Rio 2016 – proving that masters-aged athletes can still hold their own against the best.

 

World Masters Games 2017 met Colin at the 2015 UCI Track Cycling Masters World Championships in Manchester where he attempted to break the one hour record for para-cycling.  Following an intense build-up to the attempt and a strong start, Colin’s tyre unfortunately blew with just 18 minutes to go.   Colin, however, was still in good spirits we caught up with him to find out about the challenges that lie ahead.

 

The two-time World Champion broke his foot playing rugby when he was 16 years old, but not feeling any pain, he walked on it for weeks until his doctors noticed there was a problem.   Colin was then diagnosed with having a tumour on his spinal cord that had caused him to lose the feeling in his legs.  The tumour was successfully removed, however unfortunately for Colin the cast was placed too tightly on his foot and caused serious tissue damage. After six years of several surgery attempts he had his left leg amputated below the knee.  The amputation turned Colin’s attention back to the bike, “I tried cycling before I lost my leg and have always loved riding a bike” he explains.  So Colin bought a bike and got back out on the road. 




In 2008 Colin was introduced to the world of para-cycling through his short-term appointment as Disability Coordinator for British Cycling, “I found that there were loads of other people like me – people who had suffered an injury or had a disability, but still wanted to compete as a cyclist” he says.  Colin started his professional career at 40 years old, he states matter-of-factly that “age isn’t an impediment for success”.  Since his introduction to the sport Colin has gone on to race for the Irish national team and is currently training hard for a successful Paralympic Games in Rio next year, where he will meet some old rivals on the para-cycling circuit.

 

Similar to the masters sports scene, Colin explains para-cycling retains an extremely welcoming atmosphere. “Once the competition is done everyone is very friendly.  You generally compete against the same people year in year out so you build friendships that can extend outside of competition”.  The main obstacle to competing, he says, is money – “it becomes a question of where the competition is and how much it costs”. 

 

The equipment Colin requires to compete is in itself an expensive and detailed project.  “The leg, for me, is the most important piece of equipment”, he explains “an ill-fitting leg is as bad as an ill-fitting pair of shoes”.  Colin’s leg needs to be comfortable enough for him to train day in and day out and designed well enough so that he achieves his maximum potential on the bike, where tenths of a second could make the difference between winning and losing.  If you want to know more about Colin’s leg, you can ask it yourself! https://twitter.com/colinsleg   

 

Despite being well into his masters years, the world champion has no intention of slowing down.  “I’m focussing on getting through Rio first”, he explains “and then I will continue to look for further opportunities within para-cycling”. Colin is a great role model for achieving success regardless of age and disability, and World Masters Games 2017 certainly hopes its para-cycling competition will enable masters athletes to follow his example.
 

The World Masters Games is excited to host numerous para-sports competitions in 2017, including para-cycling. The para-cycling programme will be competed in 30+ and 40+ age categories for both the Time Trial and Road Race, with a men and women split. Three bike types can be raced in: two wheel; hand cycling and tricycle, with distances to be confirmed.

To learn more about the World Masters Games 2017 para-sports programme, visit our website.

 

 

 

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