The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games were a fantastic spectacle during August and September in 2021. The games had been delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the games in doubt during the run up and having to train in the midst of restrictions athletes faced challenges with their preparation like no other Paralympics. It would appear that the British team dealt with these challenges quite well winning a total of 124 medals and 41 golds. Here at Yellow Jersey we are interested in all things bikes and a stunning 20 para-cyclists brought a medal home including Sarah Storey winning her seventeenth gold. In the paratriathlon GB sent a team of eight athletes winning three medals. The Tokyo Paralympics were Great Britain’s joint most successful games, coming second in the medals table for the ninth time!
A Brief Paralympic History
In 1948 a small group of World War Two veterans from Great Britain competed in the first organised sporting event for disabled athletes. It took place on the same day of the 1948 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Prior to this, disabled athletes competed at the Olympics when they were able to. The first Winter Paralympic Games were held in Sweden in 1976. Paralympians strive for, and wholly deserve, equal treatment to their non-disabled counterparts but a large funding gap exists. Outside of the Paralympic Games coverage of disabled sport is hard to come by. In 2001 the IOC and IPC signed an agreement which stipulated the Paralympics will be staged as part of the bid for the Olympic Games. The IOC has committed to equal access to athletics by writing it specifically into its charter that ‘The practice of sport is a human right’ and efforts to ensure para sport continues to get the funding and attention it deserves are ongoing.
Para cycling – Track Highlights
The Paralympics in Tokyo 2020 boasted a huge number of cycling events in the velodrome. The track events took place at the ‘Izu Velodrome’, Japan’s first and only velodrome which meets UCI standards. Sitting in view of Mount Fuji this spectacular venue hosted some brilliant racing in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Highlights include a GB one-two from Sarah Storey and Crystal Lane-Wright in the woman’s C5 3000m pursuit as well as another 1-2 in the men’s C3 individual pursuit from Jaco van Gass and Finlay Graham. Britain dominated the track in Tokyo claiming two of the top three spots on four occasions during the Tokyo Paralympic Games and winning six golds in total during the track racing programme which ran from the 25th to the 28th of August 2021!
Para cycling – Road and Time Trial
The road wasn’t as lucrative as the track for British athletes mirroring the Olympic Games but some incredible performances were seen none the less. In the woman’s C5 time trial a repeat of the British results from the C5 3000m pursuit was seen. Dame Sarah Storey secured the top spot and achieved an incredible seventeenth Paralympic gold and Crystal Lane-Wright, who was inspired to try cycling after watching Storey compete in Beijing, managed a fifth Paralympic medal for herself. George Peasgood picked up a bronze in the C4 time trial which is extremely impressive given he competes primarily as a triathlete. Ben Watson won gold in the men’s C3 time trial by almost a minute. GB won five medals on the roads in Tokyo!
The triathlon results were a bit of a mixed bag for GB in Tokyo. The games saw Britain taking home three medals. George Peasgood won Bronze in PTS5 and Cashmore and Steadman picking up Bronze and Gold respectively in the women’s PTS5 race. The team of Dave Ellis, guided by Luke Pollard, were hot favourites going into Tokyo but picked up a race ending mechanical on the bike. This was bitterly disappointing for both men who will be back stronger in years to come. This was the second time paratriathlon had featured at the Paralympic Games after its debut in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Paratriathlon will feature in Paris 2024 and Great Britain will be looking to build on a successful time in Tokyo.
A look to Paris
The next Olympic cycle is shorter due to the delay in the Tokyo games. This may favour older athletes compared to the usual four year cycle. Sarah Storey will be 46 when the Paris Paralympic Games come round and she has said that Tokyo is ‘not necessarily’ the end of her career. If she decides to keep training and go for more golds in Paris it could see her push her Gold tally up to 20! Crystal Lane-Wright is still yet to win a Paralympic gold and will be looking to break this barrier in Paris. Visually impaired triathlon is looking to feature again in Paris, with World Triathlon submitting its entire card of events to the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) for Paris. Dave Ellis and Luke Pollard will be looking for redemption for Tokyo. Dave will be 38 by the time Paris comes around so it is possibly his last chance for a paratriathlon medal. One to watch is George Peasgood, he has the potential to win gold in both triathlon and cycling. China has dominated the Paralympic medal table for a long time now but Britain will be aiming to equal or better their second position in the rankings in Paris.
At Yellow Jersey, we can insure all kinds of bikes and insure a growing number of para cyclists each year.