Cyclist Mark Colbourne has spoken of the “quite breathtaking” experience of winning Britain’s first medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in a packed Velodrome.
Colbourne, a former Welsh volleyball international before he became disabled in 2009, won silver in the one kilometre time trial, and revealed that the thunderous roar of the crowd had helped him win the medal.
His time would have broken the previous world record for his category of impairment, but it had already been broken by five seconds with a stunning ride by China’s Li Zhang Yu, who took gold.
He said: “I probably only heard the crowd on lap three when I had relaxed into my stride.”
By then, he said, he could hear the crowd in his helmet, which gave him “that extra pedal revolution”.
And he revealed that he had prepared for the incredible noise levels in the Velodrome by listening to recordings from successful Team GB medal-winning Olympic rides on YouTube.
He said the experience had been “quite breathtaking” and that he had dreamed two years ago of competing in the games “in my own back yard, and now the dream is becoming a reality”.
Colbourne said he was “very proud indeed” to be Britain’s first medallist at London 2012, and dedicated the silver medal to his dad, Cecil, who died six months ago.
Just over an hour after Colbourne’s ride, Sarah Storey won Britain’s first gold of the games, again in the Velodrome, accompanied by crowd support that at times appeared to shake the venue to its foundations.
Storey, who already has five Paralympic swimming gold medals, and two cycling golds from Beijing, destroyed her Polish opponent in the final of the women’s individual pursuit, catching and overtaking her just after the halfway point of the three kilometre race.
Storey, who will also be competing in three other events, said afterwards: “I didn’t expect to be able to catch her as quickly as I did. Hopefully this race will set me up for the rest of the weekend.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan Fox won Britain’s first swimming gold in the 100m backstroke, while Nyree Kindred, competing in her fourth Paralympics, and 16-year-old Hannah Russell, claimed silvers.
The first gold medal of the games had earlier been won by China’s Zhang Cuiping in the women’s 10m air rifle.