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Para cycling

UCI Para-cycling Track Worlds: IPC President Andrew Parsons on home turf in Rio

International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons
International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons

“I am here to enjoy some fantastic racing. It’s great to be back in this velodrome.”

At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Andrew Parsons attended the cycling events at the Velodromo Municipal do Rio in his capacity as President of the Brazilian National Paralympic Committee and Vice-President of the International Paralympic Committee.

This weekend, it is in his role as newly-elected President of the IPC that he is watching the best track para-cyclists in the world – more than 170 athletes from 30 countries – vie for the rainbow jersey of UCI World Champion.

“The track cycling during the Paralympics was amazing and now to be back… it’s so good to see this velodrome in full use,” he said. “From a legacy point of view, it is fantastic to see an International Federation organising its World Championships here,” said the IPC President, who was born not far from the Olympic Park in the Brazilian city’s Barra district.

Andrew Parsons was elected to the head of the IPC last September, and he attended the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships on the back of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.

He said that attending the UCI World Championships was important to him, as his work was far from restricted to the Summer and Winter Games every two years: “We need to see how we can contribute to the Paralympic Movement as a whole, with the Games being the culmination of our work. While I am here (in Rio) I can meet staff from the UCI, and interact so we can work together for the Paralympic Movement.  We are all part of the same family and by attending events such as this I can understand more about the sport outside the Paralympics themselves.”

The IPC President said para-cycling was in a strong position as it was an exciting sport that translated very well into para-sport: “It brings the ‘para’ element to the people and is easy to understand,” he said.

Andrew Parsons underlined the necessity for close cooperation with the Olympic Movement, which has been strengthened thanks to the partnership he signed in PyeongChang earlier this month with the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach. The agreement, which will run through until 2032, touches on visibility of the Paralympic brand, the implementation of the Olympic Agenda 2020 and financial stability for the IPC.

“It will help us maximise efficiency, reduce costs, and increase sponsorship and broadcasting opportunities. It creates new synergies and opportunities. This cooperation was an important element of my manifesto and I am really happy to have signed this deal within six months of my election.”

Another of his major projects is to professionalize the classification process, and make it clearer. To achieve this, he intends working closely with International Federations and the Classification Committee.

It is very important that classification is understandable, that it can be trusted. I think we have a lot to do when it comes to classification being more friendly,” he said.

For the new IPC President, the key to many issues is the cooperation between all stakeholders at international and national level. When it comes to cycling, that means the IPC, UCI, National Paralympic Committees and National Cycling Federations.

“The IPC is the umbrella organisation but we need to collaborate with all our stakeholders,” he said. “We all need to work together for the Paralympic Movement.”