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newsid: 183544
Para cycling

Tandem demonstration during UCI Junior Track Worlds

Pierre Amighini and his pilot Stefano Cecini on the Montichiari velodrome
Pierre Amighini and his pilot Stefano Cecini on the Montichiari velodrome

The Italian tandem of Pierre Amighini and Stefano Cecini wish to raise awareness of para-cycling and at the weekend found the perfect audience: the world’s best Junior track cyclists.

On the final day of competition of the UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Montichiari, Italy, the duo attempted to ride as far as possible in one hour.

Although it was not an official attempt on the UCI Hour Record, the two athletes achieved their goal of exposing their sport to a large number of athletes as well as to the spectators who had packed the velodrome to watch the competitions.

In January 2016, Pierre Amighini, once a competitive cyclist, contracted a rare disease in both eyes that robbed him of 82% of his sight in the following fourteen months. But the former athlete was not going to lie down and let fate take over: after learning to walk with the help of a stick, he began covering 10-15km a day to conserve muscle tone before returning to the bike using a static roller.

His determination inspired a local businessman to buy him a tandem, and the director of a Sports Centre to allow him to use its facilities for his daily training. A meeting with former cycling rival Stefano Cecini followed, and the tandem team was born.

Together, the athletes are trying to push the message “sport from another viewpoint” and will be visiting schools to talk to students and work with them on this theme.

“We hope that our project will help people with disabilities find life at the other end of the tunnel thanks to cycling or any other sport,” says Pierre.

A burst tyre caused them to crash on the Montichiari velodrome on Sunday. Although riding at over 43km/h, they escaped with minor abrasions and once the wheel had been changed they were straight back on the bike: “In a way it was a metaphor about life. We fell and it seemed as though all was lost, but we managed to get up again and continue.”

That same determination has prompted the tandem to set itself the major goal of competing in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. In parallel they will continue their programme in schools and work to raise awareness for para-sports.

Pierre Amighini’s message is clear: “Do not discriminate against my disability, include me for my skills.”