20th August 2019
SPECIAL OLYMPICS GB NATIONAL CYCLING COMPETITION RETURNS TO TAMESIDE FOR 2019
Despite a challenging weather forecast for the weekend, a glorious two days of competition brought medals galore for Special Olympics Great Britain (GB) cyclists from throughout the UK and the Isle of Man over the weekend of August 3 and 4.
After not having had the event since 2016, a respectable field of 40 athletes converged on the Tameside Cycling Centre in Ashton-Under-Lyne near Manchester to compete in the annual Special Olympics National Cycling Competition. And everyone from athletes, coaches, family, friends and supporters, hailed it as another great event.
On Saturday afternoon all athletes undertook Divisioning with the 10km Time Trial ending the day as the first medal race. After many years of challenging for the gold medal at this event it was South West rider, Dan Weston who claimed the first gold medal of the event in a blistering time of 15m 13s, a notable step up from Scotland West’s Ruairidh Brown’s excellent previous record time of 15m 41s. A full minute behind Dan was the local North West rider Kiera Byland to claim her silver medal. A great start to a high-performance weekend to come.
With an uncertain and gloomy weather forecast, competition resumed early on Sunday morning with a fast and furious schedule of races with events from 500m Time Trials all the way up to the 25km road race to end the day. The additional challenge to beat the threatened extreme weather was on everybody’s mind as the athletes, coaches and families accepted the rescheduled event list.
There were several new riders competing this year and it was great to see the local North West Special Olympics team host a team of five riders to swell the original team of Kiera, a great achievement for the local group.
The racing came thick and fast throughout the day with both the new and seasoned hands giving their all in each and every race. As the ability range within the event broadens the number of trikes from various regions is growing, providing good competition between the regional riders.
Supporting the event were the official volunteers of Catrina Stirling and Anne Keys as Timekeepers / Commissaires with Gary McLeod looking after everybody’s wellbeing as first Aider. It was great to see Gary’s official role being redundant over the weekend but he provided great overall support. Joining this team of Special Olympics GB seasoned officials from Scotland was a team, of volunteers from throughout the country. Lesley Whitehead, Ro Bret, Elspeth Cooper and Patricia McKenzie all provided great support to the event while the local North West team provided support to everyone with a tuck shop and coffee stop on site.
The final event of the event as always was the 25km road race where riders must qualify to ride in this challenging event. With a full field of six riders all capable of winning this event, it was great to see a fast but controlled first half, with all riders being part of race. The second half of the race saw the pace increase when Dan Weston kicked, resulting in a split in the group with riders gradually dropping off the back of the group. Ultimately, only three riders were left to compete for the podium places, Dan, Lauren Booth and local rider Kiera Byland.
After 39 mins 58 seconds, the final sprint to the line saw new athlete to Special Olympics Great Britain, Lauren take Gold closely followed by Dan and then Kiera. A great result for all these athletes in the fastest ever posted time for this 25km road race event.
The Special Olympics National Cycling Competition goes from strength to strength each year and everyone involved is looking forward to the 2020 Special Olympics National Cycling Competition next summer.