BLACKPOOL-BORN cyclist Tel Byrne is going full speed ahead for the London Paralympics after tasting glory in his first world championships last weekend.
Byrne claimed a gold medal in world record-breaking style at the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in Montichiari, Italy.
He was part of the team sprint trio who broke the world record twice in the process of winning gold for Great Britain, and he also claimed individual silver in the C4 kilo in a time of 1min, 7.694secs.
Now based in Manchester but planning a move back to Blackpool, amputee Byrne is a former pupil of Millfield High School. Byrne, 26, is an army corporal who had his right leg amputated below the knee in 2008 after stepping on explosives on patrol in Afghanistan.
Still a corporal in the Second Battalion Parachute Regiment, Byrne watched the Beijing Paralympcs while recovering in hospital in Birmingham and was inspired to take up the sport.
All the determination Byrne channelled into his military career is now being focused on his sporting dreams. He explained: “When I was in the army I wanted to do 22 years and I was really focused for it, but when you get injured you can’t do that.
“Now all my focus is on London 2012. I want to train as hard as I can to give myself the best chance I can and stay in the team all the way until then. I am focusing on times and not medals.”
As for his Italian job well done, Byrne added: “Being at the top of the podium in Italy was phenomenal. It was the proudest moment of my life, definitely. It was my first championship and I can’t get over it. I feel like I can go a lot further in cycling and gold in London is the dream.”
n Get closer to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games with Lloyds TSB. Find out what we’re doing in your community and sign up for customer-exclusive updates and a chance to win London 2012 Games tickets at lloydstsb.com/trackside