MARK Colbourne wrote his name in Paralympic history as he became Great Britain’s first London 2012 medallist with a storming cycling silver last night.
Three years after he broke his back in a paragliding accident, the 41-year old flew around the velodrome in a personal best 1:16.882, roared on by a 6,000 capacity crowd that included his mother and daughter.
And he dedicated his medal to father Cecil, who only passed away in February.
“For me three years ago when my life completely changed overnight I genuinely felt that my life was over,” he said.
“However, if you take adversity and you face it head on in a positive way, then you never know what doors can open for you and you never know what you can achieve. This has shown that.
“I’m so proud to be able to share this with my family and to be able to dedicate this medal to my dad – hopefully another will be on the way soon too.
“To be the first British medal winner of the entire Games is breathtaking for me and a real honour to get us on the board. This was just a dream not that long ago and for it to be a reality now is just really amazing.”
Colbourne, who has previously represented Wales in volleyball, only joined up with the British squad last June but has been quick to make his mark.
He’s a double World Cup silver medallist this season and claimed his first career rainbow jersey in Los Angeles, winning the 3km pursuit world title in his C1 classification.
And he has left nothing to chance in his Games preparations, readying himself for the home crowd by training to downloaded commentaries from the recent Olympics cranked up to full volume on his headphones.
“I watched the Olympics on television and I knew the noise level would be deafening,” he said.
“I turned up the headphones pretty loud but nothing can prepare you for this level of noise.
“The first two laps I just go up to speed and then I could hear the crowd vibrating in my helmet and that must have been worth a couple of extra pedal revolutions per lap.”
China’s Yu Li won gold in 1:13.009, carving seconds off his personal best in an ominous expression of intent.
However, Colbourne is still brimming with confidence ahead the pursuit, his world title event.
“Fair play to the Chinese guy, he was a deserved winner and it was a very impressive performance,” he added.
“He put down a good time earlier this year in Los Angeles and he’s improved significantly since then.
“I’ve improved too and I’ve prepared really well for the pursuit and hopefully I’ll be able to put my money where my mouth is.”
- Lloyds TSB, proud supporter of ParalympicsGB and proud partner of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Get closer to the Games at lloydstsb.com/london2012