- Cycling Paralympian Mark Colbourne MBE
- World Cycling track Gold Medalist
- Olympic Silver and Gold Medalist London 2012
- World record holder in 3km pursuit.
Why & how sport helped me to focus again:
I became so embarrassed and lacked confidence after my near fatal Paragliding crash in May 2009, in which I broke my back and was left with lower leg paralysis and drop foot. I found that even though I couldn’t walk without a support frame I could actually cycle, this was due to my quads and hip flexors not being affected by the nerve damage in my spinal cord. This passion I have with cycling was a door that opened for me, to focus on what I could do, rather than what I couldn’t do.
Were you sporty before?:
I have always participated in sport, as it has been a great way of achieving personal goals albeit in a team way or an individual way. I loved the challenge that sport gave me, whether it was when I was rock climbing or even racing triathlon, or the adrenaline feeling of paragliding.
What has this new career done for you?:
My new career as a professional cyclist gave me the confidence to set bigger goals in my life, plus, have the opportunity to share with others what I have learnt in life, so it could help them in their quest to live out their personal dreams.
What has cycling done for you?:
Cycling was an opportunity for me to prove to myself and my family that I could achieve great things in life, using a positive mindset and incorporating a strict hard work ethic, while at the same time helping to inspire others to do the same, albeit in different forms of inspirational ways.
What did your training consist of?:
My training days were a mixture of long endurance rides of up to 100 miles per day, split over two x 3 hours. One session in the morning and then the same in the afternoon. Other sessions were mixed with shorter rides incorporating hills sprints and also interval sessions too.
How did you have to modify your training?:
I am lucky that with my disability I don’t have to modify my bike, however, due to not having any feet, hamstrings or gluten working, my hill sprints were difficult to do because I cannot spin the pedals really fast up hill. This was overcome by means of selecting bigger gears and using a lower cadence and using power over the top of the pedals instead of spinning like most able-bodied cyclists would do.
The London 2012 experience:
It was a lifetime dream of mine to be part of an Olympiad and when I was selected for Paralympics GB I did shed a tear or two. The whole process from start to finish was an array of fantastic memories that I will never forget and ones, which I know have influenced so many other people too. The noise of the crowd in the Velodrome, coupled with the excitement and passion of being a Paralympic Gold medalist for my country was a feeling like nothing I have ever experienced.
Life after London:
The first 3 months after the London 2012 Paralympics was very busy to say the least. I was invited to lots of functions to share my experiences of winning Gold and to explain my mindset of how I managed to become so successful in such a short space of time. This feel was due to great health and having a positive mindset to never give up on your dream.
What you are up to now?:
When I retired from the World Class Cycling program in October 2013, I wanted to pursue a career as an International Speaker, which I feel now I have succeeded in doing. My other passion and business interest was to set up my own warm weather cycling camps in the Algarve. I have recently launched the Global Cycling Camps business, which is a weeklong cycling camp, based in the Algarve that teaches groups how to cycle more efficiently and also safely, coupled with long days in the saddle enjoying the sunshine that the Algarve gives.
How mum helped you and what your thoughts are with regard to parents supporting their kids who do sport:
My mother Margaret was a great help to me after my accident and so was my Dad too. I was very proud to take Mum to the games to watch me win my medals in front of the world, and I guess after my Dad passed away in February 2012, naturally she was going through so many mixed emotions at that time. Mum is still today a great character that supports me in my journey to help others and only wants the best for me.
How is life better with sport in it?:
Sport is a great motivator for those who want challenges in life, plus, it helps youngsters to gain so much confidence in their own life from a young age. I have played all types of sport since I was maybe 6 years old, and I can honestly say it has served me really well in my life.
Mark Colbourne MBE