With the huge success of the Olympics behind us we look forward to the Paralympics. Starting in just under a week they promise to be the biggest, most watched Paralympics in history. Great Britain’s Paralympians dominated the cycling medals table in Beijing, but can they do the same at home in London?
Channel 4 are broadcasting the Paralympics over all 12 days of competition. There will be more than 400 hours of live coverage on multiple TV and online channels. The track cycling will be taking place between Thursday 30th August and Sunday 2nd September, the road cycling events are between Wednesday 5th September and Saturday 8th September.
So, how do the events work?
Athletes are split into four classes for competition. These are defined by the severity of limitation to their abilities to perform the sporting activities. The different classes also determine which cycle is used: bicycle, tricycle, handcycle or tandem.
B – Athletes with a visual impairment. They compete with a sighted pilot on a tandem bicycle.
H1-H4 – Athletes with an impairment affecting their legs requiring the use of a handcycle.
Karen Darke on a handcycle
T1-T2 – Athletes with a balance impairment compete using a tricycle.
David Stone on a tricycle
C1-C5 – Athletes with an impairment affecting their legs, arms and/or trunk but compete using a standard bicycle.
The numbers in the H, T and C classes refer to the severity of their impairment. The lower the number, the greater the impairment and therefore the greater the impact on their ability.
There are two venues hosting the Paralympic cycling.
The Velodrome in the Olympic park plays host with its 250m banked track.
There are a total of 18 medal events spread over 4 days. There are four formats – Individual Pursuit, Team Sprint, Individual Sprint and Time Trial.
Only bicycles and tandems are used in the Velodrome.
Starting on either side of the track, two opposing riders race each other, the winner being the rider to either catch the other or complete the full distance in the quickest time. The men’s is four kilometres long, the women’s is three kilometres.
This is a straight race between two riders over three laps of the track. Starting together and slowly building speed until a max speed sprint finish this race tends to be a highly tactical affair with riders trying to psyche each other out, neither wanting to be the first to set off. It is one of the most exciting events in the Velodrome, often coming down to hundredths of a second separating the riders.
The team sprint is a mixed event with teams of three comprising both men and women(C1-C5.) The fastest two teams through qualifying will race for the gold medal and the third and fourth fastest go for bronze.
1km for men, 500m for women. Athletes ride alone on the track, the fastest time wins.
An 8km circuit of Brands Hatch and surrounding roads are the venue for the road events. There are 32 medal events across three disciplines. All four classes compete.
Road Race and Team Events
All athletes start together, first across the finish line is the winner.
Athletes starts are staggered by 60 seconds. Fastest time over the course wins.
Another mass start event. Each team consists of three riders each doing two laps. The team that crosses the line first wins.
Some athletes to keep an eye on
Darren Kenny OBE
With 6 Paralympic golds, 2 silvers and 17 World Championship golds, Darren is certainly no stranger to winning! He also currently holds all World and Paralympic records in his class. London will be his third Paralympics competing in the Individual Pursuit CP3, Team Sprint and the Kilo CP3.
Sarah Storey OBE
Starting off as a swimmer in the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics, she won two golds and three silvers aged just 14. She went on to win a total of 5 Paralympic gold medals, 8 silver and 3 bronze before switching to cycling for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics where she won two golds. She also competes against able bodied athletes winning the 3km national track pursuit championship just 8 days after winning gold in Beijing. She went on to defend her title the year after.
Paralympics Home Page - for all information on events, getting to and from venues etc.
Channel 4 Paralympic Schedule - for all details of events being shown.
Official Ticket Site - There are still tickets available for purchase