19 September 2017
Fifteen cyclists representing local sight loss charity Sight Support Derbyshire went for gold by hurtling around the velodrome track at Derby Arena on the back of tandems.
They were taking part in a Paracycling Challenge during National Eye Health Week to raise money for the organisation, which provides practical help and emotional and social support to local blind and partially sighted adults and children. Both sighted and visually impaired cyclists joined in the event.
Vista, a sight loss charity covering Leicestershire, also fielded nine cyclists in a good natured competition to see who could cycle the most laps.
The tandems were piloted by seven professional British Cycling coaches, who volunteered their time to be involved. And triple gold medal-winning Paralympian cyclist Anthony Kappes was there to encourage and inspire the cyclists, and present them with certificates.
Altogether the participants completed a total of 1,795 laps of the track in just three hours – a total of 448km, or the equivalent distance from Derby to Lowestoft in Suffolk and back again. Sight Support Derbyshire just pipped Vista to the post by completing the most laps. They were helped to their total by Anthony Kappes, who although now retired, got back on the track for the occasion.
The money is still coming in but the team from Sight Support Derbyshire are expected to raise over £1,200 for the charity.
Anthony Kappes won two gold medals at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, and his third at the London 2012 Paralympics. Brought up in north Derbyshire, he spent much of his youth running on the fells there and got into tandem cycling when his eyesight deteriorated to the point where he could no longer run safely. The result was National, European, World and Paralympic titles.
After the event he said: “It was really good. There were a few nervous faces. Everyone I spoke to who had never been on a track before loved it. Everyone was having fun and that’s the most important thing, I think.”
Claire Winfield, Chief Executive, Sight Support Derbyshire, said: “All the teams did brilliantly. What was great about this event was that it was inclusive, anyone could take part regardless of their level of sight, and there were lots of smiling faces afterwards.
“The money raised from these personal challenges will go towards helping blind and partially sighted children and adults cope with the everyday challenges of living with sight loss. And our thanks go to everyone who made the event possible – volunteers on the day, the staff at Derby Arena, the tandem pilots who gave up their time, Vista and the event sponsors Irwin Mitchell.”