Borders-raised cyclist Fin Graham targeting going for gold at 2024 Paralympics
The 23-year-old, brought up in Skirling before moving to Strathpeffer in the Highlands at the age of eight, is already a four-time world champion but now wants to add to the two silver medals he won at 2021’s Tokyo Paralympics.
Para events having been few and far between of late, his eagerness to get in the saddle has seen him taking part in non-disabled races to push himself further.
“It’s hard because are all really good,” he said.
“I have ridden a bike from a young age and I have enjoyed racing from a young age.
“We don’t get that many races and I am wanting to do more.
“Since I can remember, I have been doing weekly track and road races, but I want to up the level to national series races against the top guys in the country.
“I know to begin with, it is going to be hard, but I know they are not the races I am targeting and I am using them for training.
“It will be good fun to test myself against the best in the country on the able-bodied side of things.
“All those years ago when I started racing on the mountain bike, I was never competitive – I just did the racing because I enjoyed it and it didn’t matter about the result.
“I am still enjoying what I do in the para races but the result matters, whereas going into the able-bodied races, it’s like when I was just starting racing – I am just doing it because I enjoy racing and riding my bike.”
Graham hopes that extra experience will help him improve his times as he targets a Paralympic gold medal in C1-C3 classification races to accompany the four world golds he picked up in 2022 on road and track and the two he claimed at last month’s International Cycling Union world championships in Dumfries and Galloway.
“Gold is definitely the target for Paris,” he said. “It almost sounds cocky saying that I want to win gold and I have never been like that – I have just enjoyed racing my bike – but certainly this past year the form-book has shown that I am able to compete for gold and I am hoping that come Paris, I will be in the position to do it.”
Graham is one of more than 1,000 elite athletes backed by UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded world-class programme, allowing him to train full-time with some of his sport’s leading coaches.
His team-mates Jaco van Gass and Ben Watson both won gold medals in Japan, the former by smashing a new world record for the men’s individual pursuit set by Graham minutes earlier, and he’s hoping to join them by hitting the gold standard too.
“Within my category, I have Ben and Jaco and we are the three best riders in the category in the world, so you know in training they are going to be pushing you,” he said.
“In Tokyo, Jaco had his gold medals hung up on the wall and I was looking at them thinking ‘that’s cool. I want that’.
“It helps you in training to want to beat them, but it’s a healthy relationship. It’s so beneficial having them as team-mates because they are the ones to beat.”
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