Mark Colbourne won ParalympicsGB’s first medal of the London 2012 games – picking up a silver in the 1km time-trial.
The Welshman, the penultimate rider in the time-trial, raced the 1km in a factored time (see box, below) of 1:08:471. He was beaten into gold medal position by China’s Li Zhang Yu.
ParaGB’s Darren Kenny, who won four gold medals at Beijing, narrowly missed out on a podium finish, coming in fourth.
Kenny and Colbourne were strong medal hopefuls for ParaGB in the team’s first final of the competition. Kenny, who is classified as a C3 rider and suffers from cerebral palsy, won four gold medals and a silver at the Beijing games, two golds and a silver in Athens, and was the gold medallist in the 1km time trial at this year’s Para-Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles.
Colbourne was also a gold medallist at the World Championship this year in the C1 classification time-trial – the category for the most severely physically disabled cyclists.
Also racing today for ParalympicsGB was Richard Waddon (C3), who won a silver at Beijing in the time-trial.
Darren Kenny was the first of the British team to race, and on entering the race the time to beat was from Russian Alexsey Obydennov who completed the 1km in a time of 1:10:995.
Kenny raced the kilometre in eight-tenths of a second faster than the Russian to take top spot with seven cyclists left to race.
Moments later Li Zhang Yu knocked Kenny from the top spot with a new world record for teh C3 competitors, and a factored time (see box below) of 1:05:021.
Kenny was pushed further down the leader board by the next cyclist, German Tobias Graf, broke the world record for the C2 competitors and moved into silver medal position.
Rik Waddon was the second cyclist for ParaGB, and moved into sixth position with a time of 1:11:394.
Colbourne, the penultimate rider, then moved into the silver medal position with one rider, Argentinian Ricardo Lopez, left to race. Lopez then came in seventh.
The individual time trial is a race with a simple format. Twenty eight cyclists were racing 1km around the track with the fastest time winning the gold.
The difficulty comes because of the different classifications, with the more severely physically disabled C1 cyclists racing against the less physically disabled C3 competitors.
A factor is applied to the finishing time of each cyclist based on previous average times from races in their classifications. The least disabled cyclists have no factor applied to their times.
Kenny was 19 when, as a promising junior rider, he suffered head and neck injuries on the Tour of Ireland. The crash led to Kenny developing cerebral palsy – damage to the motor control centres in the brain affecting movement.
Colbourne, 42, broke his back in a para-gliding accident and Waddon has cerebral palsy.
Earlier today Sarah Storey, who was born without a left hand, got team GB off to a cracking start by breaking the world record in the Women’s C5 Pursuit by more than a second.
It is the 72nd world record Storey has broken in her glittering career, having previously competed in swimming before changing to cycling at Beijing.
Storey is now guaranteed either a silver or a gold medal when she races at 4:31pm. Crystal Lane will also compete for Great Britain & Northern Ireland, racing for bronze. Crystal Lane will compete to add a bronze to Para GB’s medal count.
You can find out more about today’s schedule on Channel 4’s Paralympics site.