THE TANDEM Cycling Initiative developed for cyclists with a visual impairment by Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership (SSRP), with support from local cycling club the Innisfree Wheelers. has gone from strength to strength in the past year.
Following an initial 'Come & Try' Tandem Cycling event organised by SSRP back in 2008, a number of local, visually impaired athletes indicated their desire to pursue the sport of Tandem Cycling further. One visually impaired athlete from the county involved in the Tandem Cycling initiative is John Goldrick from Aclare in South Sligo.
Following links made with the Innisfree Wheelers Cycling Club through SSRP, John began to train with the club, who also helped him to identify a suitable tandem pilot to help him in his training. John has since become a full member of the Innisfree Wheelers Cycling Club and he has also attended a number of cycling tests and trials organised and delivered by Cycling Ireland as part of their Para-Cycling Development Squad.
Both organisers and coaches within Cycling Ireland have recognised John's potential and he has since become a member of the Para-Cycling Development Programme. In 2010 John competed at the Para Cycling World Cup event held in Spain. Although John missed out on selection for the London 2012 Paralympics, he continues to train hard with his dedicated tandem pilot Alan Kelly, from the Innisfree Wheelers Club. This training has not been in vain as in October of this year John won the National Invacare Para Cycling Time Trial League.
The league was organised by Cycling Ireland to establish a competitive time trial event for Para cyclists in Ireland and includes Solo bikes, Handcycles and Tandem bikes which is the event John competes in.
Each time trail had participants competing against one another in their respective category with the very highest levels of Para Cycling athletes involved. Indeed, double Paralympic Gold medalist, Mark Rohan competed in the Hand Cycle category which he duly won.
It is through John's determination and appetite for the sport the he took first place in the men's Tandem section for visually impaired athletes managing to win three of the time trial events whilst finishing runner up in the other two. This significant achievement only serves to enhance John's commitment to Tandem Cycling and will motivate him further towards establishing himself as an elite Para Cyclist.
Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership and John are extremely grateful to the Innisfree Wheelers Cycling Club for their continued support for increasing opportunities for athletes with a disability to get involved in cycling.
Contact Shane Hayes, Sports Inclusion Disability Officer with Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership on 0719161511 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like further information.