Almost one year to the day since winning Great Britain’s second cycling gold medal of the 2012 Paralympics, Mark Colbourne returned to the London Velodrome yesterday as he was unveiled as one of the Lee Valley VeloPark ambassadors.
The 43-year-old Welshman, who last week announced his retirement from competitive racing, will help coach riders at the multi-discipline Olympic and Paralympic legacy venue in East London once it opens to the public next March.
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It was Colbourne’s first visit to the Velodrome since last summer’s Games, and fell two days before the anniversary of his greatest triumph: winning the C1 3km Pursuit.
“It was unreal – two-and-a-half years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears had all come down to that one moment,” recalled Colbourne.
“Being part of ParalympicsGB in a home Olympiad, it doesn’t get any better.”
Colbourne was the favourite to take the victory, particularly after breaking a world record and finishing seven seconds ahead of his nearest rival in the morning qualifying session.
“Sitting on that start line, knowing what I had done in qualifying, I knew I just had to repeat that process. I remember thinking that it was my time to shine, and that I had put the money where my mouth was.
“Physically, I almost felt as if I hadn’t have ridden that morning. I felt so fresh, so full of energy, which was probably helped by the adrenalin. I had really prepared myself for that for 12 months.
“But, having lost my dad through stomach cancer in February, mentally I had some mixed emotions.”
He came within 30 metres of catching runner-up Li Zhang Yu, and went even faster than his short-lived world record from qualifying.
“‘How the hell did I do that?’ was initial my reaction,” he admitted.
Laura Trott and Mark Colbourne unveiled as Lee Valley VeloPark ambassadors
In addition to setting up his own cycling coaching company that will offer European training camps, Colbourne said he plans to be “hands on” in his role of Lee Valley VeloPark ambassador.
“I may have to get my own train pass as I’ve agreed that I will be here at least once a week to help and hopefully inspire as many people as I can.
“This area has transformed itself over the past few years, so to live in the testimony of all the work that has been done, and to be involved with a venue that has probably the best Velodrome in the world and will have four different disciplines in one area offering everything from grass roots up to top-level sport is a very proud moment for me.”