However, in the heat of competition, ones attention tends to be drawn momentarily away from the big picture towards a more urgent search for new holes to breathe through as you try to drag the last ounce of effort from your legs to knock a second or two off your time for the 5k time trial. The WTGF introduced this event for the 2003 games in Nancy, France – their thinking was a short time trial would be an easier prelude to the road race. It’s not. It’s brutal. Absolutely brutal. 7 mins of lactic induced unmitigated suffering.
We travelled to Spain knowing that beating any of our previous medals hauls would be unlikely. Our best effort to date being Durban, South Africa where we won 22 medals including 9 of the most shiny. Remarkably, we topped this with 10 gold medals out of a total of 20 this time.
A quick peak under the skin of this statistic reveals that 9 of these medals were won by women or junior riders with only one being won by a senior man. Yes, this represents the constantly increasing standard of competition in the senior men's categories but should not take anything away from the fantastic performances of the women and the youth. In fact, had younger riders been eligible to ride the road race and the team time trial, the GBTx medal tally would likely have been that much higher.
Newcomer Mike Oliver was fourth in Smith’s category with Declan Logue putting in a personal best to finish 9th and heart transplant recipient, the Flying Scotsman, Steve Donaldson 11th. Gavin Giles was 7th in the 40-50 age category.
Not to be out done, Su Tarling and Diana Higman finished off the bunch sprit to capture double gold medals with Zoe Dixon and Fidelma Hodkinson adding two bronze. Ella Gibson came home with an excellent silver going one better than her time trial result from the previous day.
Bob Jolliffe picked up a worthy bronze in the competitive 60-70 age category.
With some breath back in our lungs it really was time to reflect on our purpose for attending these games - to encourage people to join the organ donor register and to show how you can grab hold of a second chance at life so, if you haven’t already, please sign up because it really does save lives!