Belfast Telegraph

Old hand James wants to keep on his bike for as long as possible

By Staff Reporter

Sometimes it really is just the taking part that counts.

Team Northern Ireland's James Brown and Dave Readle know that better than anyone.

The pair represented our wee country yesterday at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in the Men's Para-Sport 1000m Time Trial B Tandem Final...which is for blind or visually impaired athletes piloted by a partner with clear vision.

Portaferry native James, approaching his 50th birthday, has had only 5 per cent vision from birth. He rides at the back of the tandem bike around the track with Dave sitting in front.

It's not dissimilar to our partially sighted Winter Paralympic champion Kelly Gallagher being guided by Charlotte Evans in her races with the aim to navigate the course as quickly as possible.

Just swap the ski-slopes for a cycling arena.

Up against the best in the world in their discipline yesterday, the Northern Ireland duo finished fifth out of five, but that doesn't even begin to tell their story.

Readle, from Liverpool, with family connections in Ulster has skin cancer and delayed his treatment to compete in Glasgow.

He also works as a performance psychologist for the Team GB cycling team, along with the renowned Dr Steve Peters who has worked with Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool and travelled to Brazil with the England team for the World Cup.

"I've gone from sofa to saddle," joked the Scouser after the race.

"I'm used to giving tips to other riders and now at major competition level I'm giving it a go myself. It was awesome out there."

Brown concurred with the crackling atmosphere trackside following their first competition ride together.

They haven't had much time to practise because of a serious accident the first time they worked in tandem.

"Dave and I have only raced together two or three times and the first time we had a bad crash," revealed Brown, who lives in Gloucestershire.

"I did a somersault and ended up going to hospital in an air ambulance. That was only nine or 10 weeks ago.

"I broke my collarbone and five ribs and I'm only just discovering some damage to my arm as well which was masked by the pain of my other injuries.

"I'm not as strong as I would like to be, but I'm well enough to ride and compete, and the physios in the Northern Ireland team have been great."

Brown is an old hand at major events and at a range of different sports.

In athletics, cycling and cross country skiing, James has competed in four Paralympic Games, seven World Championships and two European Championships.

His best results came in the 1984 Paralympic Games in New York where he won two gold medals for Great Britain in the 800m and 1500m.

He retired from sport to focus on wife Mel and children Alice and Pete, but with the kids grown up decided to return for the London 2012 Paralympics, where he raced for Ireland and won bronze in the Time Trials with then partner Damien Shaw.

Now Brown, taught to ride a bike by his mum when he was five, is back and doesn't want to go away. Today he will race again in Glasgow and is already targeting the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

"I'll be 50 in a couple of months but I want to keep going for as long as I can," he says with a smile.

Belfast Telegraph

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