This year may have seen hand cyclist Steve Arnold make his international debut for Great Britain but the Lynn athlete insists he can’t wait to return a little closer to home for next month’s Prudential RideLondon.
A former staff sergeant in the army, Arnold took up hand cycling at Headley Court rehabilitation centre in May 2011 after losing both his legs when he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on tour in Afghanistan.
He has been going from strength to strength since, including representing GB at the UCI Para-cycling Cup and Road Cups across Europe during the last few months.
Attention soon switches back to England with former King Edward VII High School pupil Arnold down to compete in the Prudential RideLondon Handcycle Classic on Sunday, August 2.
It forms part of the annual two-day festival of cycling which celebrates the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games, with Arnold himself having taken part in the previous two years.
The latter saw him finish eighth with Austria’s Walter Ablinger taking the win ahead of Arnold’s teammate and Paralympic cyclist Brian Alldis.
Arnold admits he can’t wait to get back in front of the home crowds and attempt to close the gap on his friend.
“Racing in the capital, you can’t really get much better than that. It was a really good event last year, racing through the streets of London and then onto the Mall,” said Arnold, who has been supported through the Help for Heroes Sports Recovery programme.
“The crowds there were great even though it was bad weather on the day. I’m really looking forward to getting back out there.
“I’m hoping for top five, or an improvement on last year where I came eighth. Top three would be fantastic.
“Brian is a teammate and friend, we are roommates when we go away with British Cycling. He’s been really helpful for me but that goes out the window when we race. ”
Arnold’s best finish internationally this season has been 12th at the Paracycling Cups in the Italian cities of Verola and Brixia in April and May. While Rio may come too soon for him, Arnold insists he is still on track to one day make the Paralympic Games.
“I’ve had a couple of World Cup races, I got a couple of top 30 finishes. The competition to make Rio is tough for everyone but Tokyo is definitely the one I’m aiming for,” he added.
“I’m definitely happy with how things have been going this year. I feel like I am making improvements, I’ve got a hard month of training coming up and I’ll see how I feel.”
l Prudential RideLondon takes place on August 1-2. Prudential is proud to support people’s ambitions. Visit www.pru.co.uk