When Neil Fachie takes to London’s Lee Valley VeloPark track this weekend, the moment will mark a significant reunion.

Fachie hasn’t returned to the venue since claiming tandem B kilo gold at his home Paralympics back in 2012, in what was a world record-breaking ride.

In the intervening years the former sprinter has achieved a lot – Paralympic silver at Rio 2016 as well eight world titles to add to his imperious tally – but the 34-year-old has never had the chance to ride the London boards.

That is, until he competes at the TISSOT UCI Track Cycling World Cup in London in what will be an historic moment for para-cycling: the first-time para-athletes will compete at a World Cup event.

A double delight, then, for Fachie, who is relishing the chance to ride in front of a famously raucous crowd.

“It’s huge for para-cycling really,” he said.


"To go back there has some pretty special feelings."

Neil Fachie

“Obviously 2012 was a huge moment for para sports in the UK and it was kind of ground-breaking really.

“That’s the last time that many of us – certainly myself – competed on that Velodrome, so I’ve not actually visited since that day.

“To go back there has some pretty special feelings. Just for para sports to be in the limelight again, in front of big crowds, is great.

“We’ve been training really hard through the winter and we’ll just see where we’re at, but we’re going pretty well and should be able to put on a good show.”

Fachie will compete in London alongside pilot Matt Rotherham, with the duo looking to cap off what has been a remarkable year on the track.

Double gold at the Commonwealth Games, with Fachie retaining both titles that he had won in Glasgow four years prior, was followed up by a pair of triumphs at the world championships in Rio de Janeiro.

Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham claim victory at the world championships in Rio de Janeiro

And Rotherham can’t wait to demonstrate the unique spectacle of tandem sprint cycling, sure that the discipline is set for big things.

“It is definitely going to show the best qualities of para-cycling. While we have the sprint, a lot of people say that it’s more exciting than Olympic racing,” said the 24-year-old.

“Since London, para-sport has been well received here. It’s great to be part of that and it’s not seen as separate to Olympic sport. It’s all the same.

“Having events like the Commonwealths, the World Cup, the Tour de Yorkshire focusing on para-sport, it’s making it more normal.

“It’s no different. The racing can be faster than some able-bodied guys.”

With the likes of Dame Sarah Storey, Jody Cundy and Jon-Allan Butterworth all in the squad for the London world cup, it is a line-up that is as decorated as they come.


“Obviously, I want to be winning it as well – it is important to me!”

Neil Fachie

But there is still room for some fresh faces; Finlay Graham and Matthew Robertson will look to establish themselves in the set-up with statement performances in London.

And Fachie admits that, while it creates a degree of pressure, the rise of young talent undoubtedly serves to help the whole squad.

“There’ll be quite a lot of development riders racing at the world cup, which is great to see,” he continued.

“It’s a huge event for them, a great experience to race in front of a crowd – we don’t get that overly often.

“It can be a bit of a shock when you get to a Paralympics and there are thousands of people watching and you’re used to a couple of hundred.

“It’s great; some of them who have just come on the squad recently have made huge gains already, so it’ll be great to see how they perform. There’s a few pushing me as well, so it keeps me on it!”

Neil Fachie and Pete Mitchell celebrate silver at the 2016 Rio Paralympics

But for a man with three Paralympic medals, 12 world titles, four Commonwealth golds and two world records on his CV, the name of the game is winning.

And with world championships, Paralympics and – potentially – more world cup events on the horizon, things will be no different when he sets off in London.

“I’ve got an idea in my head of how quick I’d like to go,” added Fachie.

“It’s hard to know where we’re at, so it’s a bit of a stab in the dark to an extent. I’m not overly fussed on the time I do, it’s more about the performance.

“The sprint events on the tandems is one that’s a bit of a spectator-friendly one, and it’d be great to put on a good show for the fans as well.

“If we can get people loving tandem sprinting then we’re more likely to get more events in the future, so I’m more interested in putting on a good show.

“Obviously, I want to be winning it as well – it is important to me!”

Image credits: SWPix

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