Hand-cyclist, from King’s Lynn, set to experience Rio Paralympic Games

Steve Arnold: Picture supplied

Steve Arnold: Picture supplied - Credit: Archant

A King's Lynn man is on the fast-track to becoming a Paralympian and will spend several days at the Rio Games next month.

Help for Heroes is supporting seven athletes on its Paralympic Inspiration Programme, which will attend the Rio Summer Paralympic Games in September.

Hand-cyclist Steve Arnold, 37, is one of seven military athletes to join the programme which comprises 21 athletes across 13 Paralympic sports.

The programme, which was launched in London 2012, aims to prepare developing athletes for a future Games experience as a selected athlete, as well as inspire and excite potential future Paralympians in their ambitions.

Mr Arnold, a former staff sergeant, lost both legs above the knee after stepping on an IED while leading a search team in April 2011.

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He went through rehab at Headley Court before taking part in sports recovery events with Help for Heroes.

This included the Race Across America in 2012 and the Invictus Games in 2014. He joined the British Cycling Development squad in October 2013 and competed in national and international hand-cycling races.

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He said: 'Sport has given me the drive and determination to keep going and not give up, it's also great for my health and I love being part of a team just like the military.

'Being selected onto the programme is recognition from British Cycling that although I wasn't ready for Rio they believe I could be ready for Tokyo. I'm honoured to be part of something that many people won't get to do, to be able to see from the inside how a major Games works.'

The group will travel to Brazil where the programme aims to provide an understanding of the scale and scope of the Games; give an experience of a multi-sport environment; and give exposure to some of the unique aspects of a Games, including the village, the media spotlight and mixed zone, and transport systems.

Additionally, there will be lessons about nutrition, the media, anti-doping, competition planning and goal setting, and athletes will be expected to keep up with their current training programmes.

Jayne Kavanagh, performance pathway manager at Help for Heroes, said: 'We are delighted to have the opportunity to again be involved with such a unique initiative to enable our country's wounded to experience the spirit of the summer Paralympics at Rio.

'It is our hope that this experience will inspire our Paralympic Inspiration Programme athletes to dedicate themselves to their training in order to achieve their dreams of competing in future summer and winter Paralympic games.'

The programme is the result of a co-ordinated approach by the British Paralympic Association, Help for Heroes and the National Governing Bodies for sports. Athletes were nominated by their National Governing Body based on a number of criteria.

Are you working towards a special goal? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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