Date: Thursday, 10 December 2015

A motocross accident in 2009, eventually led Alex Welsh to become a member of the Australian Para-cycling team who were part of the NZ Para-cycling Open road event near Invercargill on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old had previously done some cycling, but he decided to take up hand cycling after 12 months of rehabilitation.

"I was introduced to hand cycling and I live about an hour from Melbourne in the hills, so cycling was one of those things I did a little bit of beforehand," he said.

"But yeah it is good to give me the opportunity to get back into it, in the handbike and I slowly progressed," he said.

"I began racing in the 2011 season and I have been slowly trying to get better from there."

The Victorian is aiming to make the Paralympics in the sport at some stage in the future.

"I think I have got a little bit more developing to do and I will have to get better," he said.

"I still have a lot of time left in the sport."

"I think Paralympics are definitely on the cards, if it isn't for Rio, then for future events."

Welsh was the only competitor in the H3 classification hand cycles for athletes without the use of their lower limbs finishing the 15km event with a time of 28 minutes and 53 seconds.

The student rides on an impressive looking Polish built bike.

"The bike is hand propelled and the front wheel is driven, essentially they are bike parts like what you would find on any regular bike, chain rings are upside down but the gears are the same," he said. 

"I choose to use 20-inch rear wheels which are a little bit different, everyone runs different things."

World championship silver medalist Emma Foy from Dargaville finished with the fastest time in the female BVI tandem section with Hannah van Kampen.

The pair recorded a time of 36 minutes and 22 seconds in the 25km event.

"It was straight and long, the wind wasn't as bad as the last few days, no wind and rain which makes it easier," she said.

Foy will also be participating in the NZ Para-cycling Open track event this weekend, with both C1 events being crucial for Rio 2016 Paralympics qualification. 

"I like the fact that I can do both road and track, it breaks the season up in two, so when I get a bit sick of road then it is track season," she said.  

Photo and article courtesy Stuff

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