Norfolk Handcyclist believes Prudential RideLondon success can help him reach 2016 Paralympics
- Credit: Archant
King's Lynn handcyclist Steve Arnold insists next month's Prudential RideLondon will be another important marker in his bid to represent Great Britain at the Paralympics.
A former staff sergeant in the army, Arnold took up handcycling 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 since gone from strength to strength and last year took part in the inaugural Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix, finishing eighth of the handcyclists involved.
And on August 10 this year Arnold will take part in a new Prudential RideLondon event, the Handcycle Classic, which kicks off in Kingston and will see a field of up to 50 elite athletes battling it out over a 15-mile route finishing in spectacular style on the Mall.
A year on and former King Edward VII High School pupil Arnold is looking for a much improved result this time around, having impressed so much in 2013 that he was brought into the Great Britain Development Team last October.
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However the 34-year-old insists this is just the start for him, with his sights set firmly at starring at the highest possible level sooner rather than later – starting with RideLondon.
'Last year's Prudential RideLondon was amazing so I can't wait to do it all over again next month,' said Arnold, who has been supported through the Help for Heroes Sports Recovery programme.
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'A lot has happened since then and now and in October I was brought into the Great Britain Development Team, which was a real honour. Having been in the army it is like swapping one uniform for another really.
'I have started to not only race on the national circuit but also on the European one too and that has been great, it has been brilliant to test myself at the highest level.
'So I am definitely looking to have improved at this year's RideLondon while also continuing to learn and see some of the best cyclists from Europe come down too.
'I am aiming for World Championships and Paralympics one day. Even though it is a fair while away I am aiming for it because otherwise what is the point of doing it?
'So RideLondon will be another important goal towards that and I can't wait to get going again.'
Having been part of last year's Prudential RideLondon, cycling on closed London roads will be nothing new to Arnold, although he insists the novelty will never wear off.
'The atmosphere at last year's RideLondon was amazing and I can't wait to do it all over again,' he added.
'It is often you get the opportunity to ride around closed roads in your capital city and I have been lucky enough to do it already but it is something I will never get tired of doing.'
Prudential are proud to sponsor Prudential RideLondon, the UK's biggest cycling festival on August 9 and 10. For more details, visit www.ridewithprudential.co.uk