UCI Cycling World Championships: Borders para-cycling star Fin Graham lands two golds and four silvers in wonderful effort
Prior to this pair of fine performances, Graham, 23, who was raised in Skirling and educated in Biggar before moving to the Scottish Highlands aged eight, had also excelled in the track section of the championships which was held at Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in the early days of the championships which ran from August 3 to 13.
The Borderer won a silver medal in the 1km time trial final on Friday, August 4, before doing likewise in the C3 scratch race 24 hours later. And, moving on another day, Graham struck gold in the men’s C3 individual pursuit final as well as gaining another silver in the men’s C3 omnium.
Graham finished runner-up to fellow GB athlete and training partner Jaco van Gass – who was born and raised in South Africa before switching his sporting allegiance to this country – in all three track races where he got silvers, but he then defeated van Gass into runner-up spot in the individual pursuit over 3km.
"With it being a home world championships I was really looking forward to racing in front of a home crowd,” Graham told the Southern Reporter.
"I was hoping to defend my track titles from last year. I didn’t quite manage to do that in the scratch race unfortunately, although it was a really close race with Jaco. He just pipped me at the end.
"Then the pursuit was the one that I wanted to win at a packed out velodrome in front of a Scottish crowd. And it was so special winning that and being able to celebrate with the Scottish crowd.
"The adrenaline rush I got was phenomenal. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to win in front of a home crowd and I wasn’t leaving without the gold.
"The noise they make as you’re riding round helps massively. They get you round the pain you’ve got in your legs, you kind of don’t notice that when you hear the crowd.
"Every lap my coach John Hewitt shouts my lap splits so I know if I’m on pace or not and I couldn’t hear it for the majority of the time because of the noise that was being made by the crowd. It was a really good problem to have.
"Taking the saltire after the race and celebrating with my friends and family – including my mum Dee, dad Drew, brother Rory and former schoolmate Matthew – was something special.”
Graham, who now lives in Manchester, said that finishing runner-up to van Gass three times before finally seeing him off to get a gold made it seem even more significant.
He added: "In Tokyo at the Paralympics (in 2021), the gold and silver ride was against Jaco and I lost to him – he beat me and won the Paralympic gold – so it’s nice to even it out and make it one all.
"I had never beaten him in the pursuit before so it’s great to do that as it was a massive goal to win that one to end the track racing.
"Having Jaco as a team-mate, you know that if you beat him in training in Manchester or get close to him in training, you know that’s a good sign for when racing comes because he’s the best in the world.
"He’s a good marker in training and it’s nice to have someone like that to measure yourself against.
"When I won the gold, to begin with it was really close and my coach was shouting that he was up on me for a bit. But it swung, I was beating him and I think it ended up I beat him by four or five seconds in the end.
"I’m really happy with my performances.”
Before his two road racing events had started, Graham was very confident about his chances and so it proved as he added a silver and gold to end a hugely successful championships for him.