Indomitable one-limbed Spaniard wins third track world title
GLASGOW – When Spain’s Ricardo Ten Argiles was eight years old he touched a high-voltage power line and was electrocuted, suffering injuries so horrific that he had to have both his arms and one leg amputated.
On Monday, at the age of 47, he won his third para track cycling world title, obliterating the rest of the field in the C1 scratch race, averaging 44kph over 60 circuits of the Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow.
But that is only half of his inspirational story.
Ten, who hails from Valencia, is writing a second chapter to a remarkable tale of sporting endeavour in the face of adversity.
Before taking up cycling, he was already a three-time Paralympic gold medallist in swimming having made his debut at Atlanta in 1996 and owns three world titles in para swimming.
Now he has his sights set on adding to his haul of gold medals at next year’s Paris Paralympics, a feat he says would be “insane”. So what made him switch from swimming to cycling?
“I always try to keep my motivation very high and I was competing for 21 years at a high level in Paralympic swimming, five Paralympic Games, I always loved competition very much,” he told Reuters after his winning ride.
“In Rio 2016 I changed to cycling because it was a goal again that kept my motivation very high because I keep progressing every season. Not like in swimming where every year I was stuck and struggling to keep my best marks.
“The truth is, the style of training is very similar. You need to use different muscles but it didn’t take much effort to swap from swimming pool to the bike.”
Ten, who took years to recover from his injuries, has used a specially designed bike since switching seven years ago.
It has handlebars that are moulded to fit his stumps while his prosthetic left leg does not have a foot but clips directly on to his pedal. Watching him rhythmically glide around a velodrome is a study in smooth pedalling power that would be impressive even for those blessed with four limbs, rather than one.
He was given a huge ovation during his victory lap on Monday, every bit as loud as the cheers for Britain’s medallists. And his message to those who wonder what has driven him on to such feats was simple.
“No matter how difficult life can be, it is worthy to try to enjoy it, even if only for a few moments, try to live them intensely,” he said.
The UCI World Championships in Glasgow is the first to have para cyclists and able-bodied athletes competing on the same programme and it has proved a hit with crowds, especially with Britain’s para riders collecting 15 golds so far.
The latest came on Monday as Neil Fachie and pilot Matt Rotherham won the men’s B (visually impaired) sprint, beating German pairing Thomas Ulbricht and Robert Forstemann to gold. - REUTERS