With the countdown to the Paralympics games now on, the excitement is rising for Ireland’s paracycling team who will compete in London.
Paracycling was first brought into the Paralympic Games in 1984, open to Cerebral Palsy athletes but since modern classifications have been introduced in 1984 the sport has grown, with hand-cycling being introduced in 2004. For these games, Ireland has a full squad of athletes in every classification and are consistently regarded as being the top in the world and one of the most successful all round competing teams. As a testament to this, this year’s games will feature two current World Champions in Mark Rohan and Colin Lynch who are anticipating big performances at the games.
Rohan is a H1 Handcyclist with a Spinal Cord Injury who hails from Ballinahown in Athlone and has been confined to a wheelchair following a motorcycle accident in 2001. A talented footballer, Mark played for Westmeath at u21 level for three years before his accident.
He has a Bsc in sports management from UCD and has been training as a full time athlete since 2009. An outstanding all round athlete, Mark has also represented Ireland in the Wheelchair Basketball European Championships in 2005, 2007 and 2009.
He has been competing in handcycling since 2009 and has won the paracycling HI road race at the World Championships in Canada as well as getting silver in the 2010 world cup road race in Spain. Mark has the unique record of being Ireland’s first paracycling Road World Champion and will be hoping for a gold medal heading to London.
World Champion Colin Lynch has a similarly impressive repertoire. Colin lost his leg following cancer of the spine and joined the Irish squad in 2009. Based in Macclesfield near Manchester, Colin has competed at the 2009 Track World Championships and the 2010 Road World Championships. His event is particularly exciting, with the 1km Time Trial and 3Km Individual Pursuit competitions being particularly fast paced and thrilling. Lynch qualified for London with an impressive display at the Road World Championships in Denmark where he beat off Italian Fabrizo Macchi and Spaniard Maurice Far Eckhart to win the gold in exceptionally challenging weather conditions. Colin, who finished 2nd overall in the 2011 World Cup series is highly tipped to medal for Ireland in London and with fellow world champion Mark Rohan also hotly favoured, the duo will be hoping to provide Ireland with some more cause for celebration.