Tredegar Paralympian Mark Colbourne aims for gold - in memory of dad
FROM tragedy to triumph, with a bit of both in between, Mark Colbourne’s story reads like the script of a Hollywood film.
The dad from Tredegar will represent Great Britain in cycling at the Paralympic Games after a remarkable journey - and he says he will be going for gold in memory of his father.
Mr Colbourne, 42, was a keen sportsman growing up, representing Wales at volleyball, and loved paragliding.
As the Argus reported, it was while paragliding at Rhossili in 2009 that tragedy struck.
Caught in a crosswind, which he describes as like a car hitting black ice, he had no control of his landing, and was so badly injured he had to be airlifted to hospital.
Hospitalised for six months having fractured a vertebrae in his back, after many tortuous hours of rehab he is able to walk with the aid of walking sticks, but the only muscles which work in his legs are his hip flexes and quads.
He was introduced to cycling at a taster session at the Newport Velodrome run by Neil Smith from Pontypool a volunteer with Welsh Disability Sport.
He loved it, and was evidently very good at it, mopping up medals at major championships both on the road and the track.
It was the most recent of his medals, gold in the pursuit at the Paracycling World Championships in Los Angeles in February, which was again laced with tragedy.
His dad Cecil, a former crane driver with British Steel, died at the age of 74 from stomach cancer just before the championships.
"I was riding angry there, angry that my best friend had been taken away,’ he said.
"He will be riding with me in London I know that, let’s just hope he can pedal as fast as me!"
His mother, Margaret, 70, and daughter Jessica,18, will be in London to support the proud Welshman and even prouder Valleys boy.
The former Tredegar Comprehensive pupil, said: "I will seek permission but if I win I would like to have both the Union flag and the Welsh dragon on the handlebars.
"They’ve got a gold postbox in Cardiff and a lot of people have been saying we need one in the Valleys so hopefully I can get us one in Tredegar."
He can’t risk ever paragliding again and is constantly wary that a crash on the bike could dislodge one of the six pins in his back and leave him in a wheelchair again.
In fact he has so far never returned to the scene of the accident, but says: " I will go back there, but in my own time.
It would be nice to go back the first time with my gold medals around my neck."