Date: Wednesday, 09 December 2015

Southland para-cyclist Victoria Baldwin will take the next step towards achieving her goal of making the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics on Wednesday.

Baldwin will compete in the C1 New Zealand Para-cycling Open road time trial in Makarewa near Invercargill.

The UCI event will provide riders with the opportunity to earn qualification points towards Paralympics selection. 

"It is to help me get points towards Rio, I probably won't do Rio, but I am aiming for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics team," she said.

The Southland Girls' High School student will be riding in her first official road meeting in the 15km time trial. 

"They are completely different because on the road you have brakes and gears, and on the track you don't and there is also the weather," she said.

She will compete in the C3 classification for athletes without a balancing impairment, on a standard bike.

"It goes from C1 to C5, C1 is when you are severely disabled basically and C5 is when you are able bodied, so I am in the middle," she said.

Baldwin is looking forward to riding in her home province.

"It is absolutely great to be down here, and I don't have to travel," she said. 

"It is a pity about the weather."

The Academy Southland student is impressed by the sport in New Zealand.

"Para-cycling is amazing in New Zealand, there are so many good people out there that can go fast and the coaches are amazing, so it is good," she said.

Baldwin will also participate in the New Zealand Para-cycling Open track event as part of the Southland Track Championships this weekend.

"I am doing 500m time trial and pursuit," she said.

"I prefer the track, but for para-cycling you can do road and track, so they are training me up for both."

Thirty-nine para-cyclists from Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand will be riding in the international C1 road and track events this week in Southland, where riders can earn valuable points to qualify for Rio.

"All around the world everyone's trying to get points so there are different ones in different countries trying to qualify for the Rio Paralympics," national development co-ordinator Dale MacDonald said.

On the road, riders will compete using one of four types of cycle using either standard bicycles, tandems, tricycles or hand-cycles depending on their type of disability and are then classified in one of 13 categories.

"For men and women there are two trike classifications, there's five hand bike and five standard bike classifications, there are tandems as well for visually impaired," MacDonald said. 

Most participants will compete in the 15km time trial course on Wednesday, with the exception of the men's C4 and C5, and the BVI tandems who ride 25km.

The meeting will feature top level international para-cycling squads who will use the Makarewa circuit to springboard their Rio campaigns.

"The Australians are sending world champions to the event, including Kyle Bridgwood who is the C4 world champion and trike rider Carol Cooke, and we have got some world champions like Emma Foy and Tim Williams as well," she said.

"They will be in the medals at Rio."

The Malaysian and New Zealand para-cyclists will also compete in the track cycling event at the weekend, while the Australians return home after the road time trial for their own National Track Cycling Championships.

Photo and article courtesy Stuff


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