IN recent weeks most of us with a sporting bent have been glued to our televisions during the Olympics and the Paralympics marvelling at the performances of the competitors.
One critical factor behind every athlete is the quality of the backroom support team.
In Banbridge CC we are justly proud of the contribution of our own coach and Team Ireland’s Chief Cycle Mechanic, Gerry Beggs whose sterling work behind the scenes helped the 10 team competitors rack up an outstanding tally of two gold , one silver and two bronze medals.
In addition the team set six new national records as well as each member setting new personal best times in their events.
I spoke with Gerry this week fresh from a reception for the team hosted by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Phoenix Park, Dublin.
Still obviously on a high generated by the achievements of the team and the reception they received in the velodrome, Brands Hatch, where the road events took place, and on their homecoming at Dublin Airport, Gerry had no hesitation in declaring the whole event as the most outstandingly unforgettable experience in his long sporting life to date.
But it was certainly hard work. Gerry and his associates in the support team started work on the bikes and with the athletes from 6.30am in the morning and more often than not was still there well after 9pm in the evening.
He barely found the time each day to visit the Games canteen where food from all corners of the world was available to up to 4500 competitors and officials 24 hours a day.
Gerry, who also performed the same role in Bejing, was overwhelmed by the friendliness generated by the volunteers who he described as simply superb, and was happy to confirm that, contrary to expectations following Bejing, the London Paralympics far surpassed that experience.
The velodrome was full to capacity every day and the noise from the spectators had to be experienced – trying to describe it was futile!
He was pleased to note that it seemed to reach the same decibels for Team Ireland competitors – providing of course that there were no Team GB riders involved.
As ever Gerry never misses the opportunity to highlight the sheer grit and determination of the disabled cyclists in posting performances that 95% of club cyclists would be proud of.
Over a coffee with quadruple gold medallist Sarah Storey Gerry learnt of the sub 20 minute 10 mile time trials that she has recorded!
And finally Gerry took great delight in showing me a postage stamp from the Olympic post office featuring himself in Team Ireland kit with his Banbridge CC jersey against a backdrop of the Union Jack. Fair play to you Gerry and very well done.
BANBRIDGE CC HOST NIGHT AT THE RACES.... CYCLING STYLE! - Banbridge Cycling Club will be hosting a ‘night at the races’ with a difference on Friday 21st September.
Typically such nights are based around horse racing, but using our four legged friends as the basis of a nights entertainment wasn’t close enough to home for this bunch of cyclists so some fast peddlers will be drafted in for the live action instead.
It’s sure to be a great nights entertainment and the club would be delighted to see as many both new and old faces as possible to come along and join in.
We don’t think it’s one you’ll forget too soon…. Everyone welcome.
The evening will kick off at 7:30pm at The Coach Inn in Banbridge, with the first race starting at 8pm with free entry thanks to some generous sponsorship.
The racing will be followed by a DJ who’ll round off the evening until shutter time.