After all the excitement and for some, the emotion of the opening ceremony it was time for the sports to begin. With my cycling events being on Tuesday and Wednesday I had a couple of days to go watch the team do their thing at the wheelchair tennis and athletics with plenty of medals coming in both events.
Monday morning was cycle training for the final time before the TT the next day. During the training session I carried out a 80% effort of the whole course getting around in just under 10min 30 sec and from that I predicted I could go flat out the next day when it mattered in a time of about 9 mins 45 sec which hopefully would bring home the gold medal.
RACE DAY. I finally got my start time for the TT 0917. I would be heading off around the 5km course and with all riders setting off in alphabetical order I would be first to go in my category which meant I would need to wait for everyone to finish before I know if my time was fast enough for first place.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1...0917 and I'm off! Building the speed over the first couple of hundred metres, making my heart rate go from resting to 180bpm in a flash, then it's all about doing what you and your coach have talked about, taking the right line into and out of the corners controlling yourself on the descent and the technical section capping your effort on the 8% climb so you don't burn out at the top or in the last 1km. Thankfully I must have done all of that and I crossed the line in a time of 9mins 48sec (so I wasn't to far off my prediction) the next bit was the tough part waiting for the next 13 riders to cross the line to see if I'd won the TT and whether all that hard word had paid off.
I could hear the unofficial times as the riders crossed the line but they weren't official. Then some 5 mins after the last rider finished the results were finally official and I had won the TT by 22sec with USA in second and the French rider in third. First gold medal in the bag time then it was time to rest up and get ready for the Crit race tomorrow.
THE CRIT RACE. This race was a 30min race around a 1.9km circuit with all 24riders starting at the same time. 13 riders in my category and 11 in another (basically two different races on at the same time).
At 0950 we are off. Racing in the first lap there was a lot of bumping and banging of bikes and wheels and I had a few spokes broken on my rear right wheel thankfully not serious enough to make me stop but I got the feeling the three French riders had got me down as a marked man and as the race un folded I was getting blocked, bumped and cut up by these guys but all that was fine and is part of racing in a bunch. A bit close to being naughty but not stepping over the line and to be honest, a lot of fun.
As we came through the start/finish line the lap board was up 2 to go. I went for a little sprint off the front the French riders shut it down. I tried again I got blocked. I hit into the back of a French rider as he put on his breaks in front of me, breaking a piece off his bump bar. I remember thinking, 'it's all getting a bit dangerous'. Finally I pulled away again and only two French guys can follow this time to shut me down. 600m to go, there's three of us away at the front but I only need to worry about one of them as the other French rider isn't in my category. 450m to go and the French rider starts his sprint (sprint engaged meaning you can't move off your line).
I sit in behind knowing 450m is a long way to go. From 300m I cut left, I get cut up. 250m I go right I get cut up again, 100m I move right again guess what I get cut up again. This time I need to break as I'm heading for the barrier or going to crashing into the French guy and going at 54kph that would have been messy.
I throw my arm in the air in anger but that's it, the I cross the finish line in second place beaten by half a bike length I'm gutted, but then I see my coach and he asks me if I want to protest the sprint. I instantly say yes so the the protest is put in 45 mins later and after the commissaries have reviewed the footage it is deemed I was impeded in the sprint and the decision is revered and I have my second gold medal of the games. The French did counter protest but once their coach saw the footage they dropped the case and I did finally shake hands with the French rider so I hope it's all behind us now.
Since then I have been supporting the rest of the team in their events, watching the sitting volleyball, wheelchair rugby, indoor rowing and archery.
The whole team is doing incredibly well and although these games for many is not about the medals count the UK team currently has 61 medals 19 gold, 25 silver and 17 bronze and there is still the archery, swimming and basketball finals to go.
The past 7 days have been unbelievable and I have seen what the power of sport can do. Invictus Games isn't just about medals, it's about your gold medal and everyone here has a personal goal whether that's getting a bit fitter, giving life a purpose again or making their family proud.
I really hope these games are a stepping stone for many to move forward in there lives and never look back again. One thing I do know for many Toronto will never be forgotten as this city has welcomed us with open arms.
THANK YOU CANADA.