Shrugging off a broken back brings cycle gold

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A CYCLIST who fought his way back into the sporting elite after breaking his back in a paragliding accident smashed the world record and won a gold medal in a day of high drama and emotion for the Great British team.

Mark Colbourne, 42, became the toast of Paralympic cycling with a devastatingly fast ride in the 3km pursuit yesterday in the velodrome.

It followed the silver medal he earned on his Paralympic debut on Thursday.

He dedicated the gold to his father Cecil, who died earlier this year, and said of realising his dream: “I keep pinching myself.”

Minutes before his triumph war hero Jon-Allan Butterworth won a silver medal in a 1km time trial.

Butterworth lost an arm in a rocket attack on Basra air station in Iraq in 2007,

He said after his thrilling ride: “It’s amazing. The crowd really got behind me and it was a great feeling.”

The 26-year-old, from Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, who now lives in Sale, Cheshire, made his journey to the Games via the Help for Heroes’ Battle Back scheme.

The velodrome’s triumphs and disasters came on another day of excitement, inspiration and deep emotion at the Games.

Martine Wright, who lost both her legs after being horrifically injured in the 7/7 bombings, 
fulfilled her dream of representing her country at the Paralympics.

Wright, who proudly wears the number seven shirt in recognition of the day that changed her life, took her place in Britain’s sitting volleyball team.

Her side lost to Ukraine but she said: “As a team we are really proud of ourselves. We have only got two-and-a-half years of experience and this is the first ever GB team so I am really proud, and this is the start of our journey.”

Earlier at the cycling Aileen McGlynn and Helen Scott won a silver medal in the women’s blind and visually impaired time-trial, narrowly missing out on gold by just half a second.

Afterwards McGlynn 39, from Glasgow, praised the feverish atmosphere and said: “It’s amazing, brilliant.”

In the stadium on the first day of athletics shot putter Aled Davies won bronze. The 21-year-old Bridgend athlete said: “As soon as I came out of that tunnel the whole stadium erupted.

“They didn’t know who I was but I was competing for Great Britain and everyone started screaming.”

Younger sibling Oliver Hynd won the Paralympic bragging rights in the battle of the brothers yesterday as he pipped Sam to silver in the pool.

The S8 400 metre freestyle event was won by Chinese swimmer Wang Yinan in four minutes 27.11 seconds with the two brothers picking up the other medals.

Oliver was second in four minutes 27.88 seconds – a personal best – with Sam third in 4:32.93.

Fellow Briton Thomas Young finished just outside the medal positions in fourth place.

The brothers have neuromuscular myopathy, a condition that severely weakens their legs, and went into the race as favourites.

Sam, 21, remained upbeat, saying: “The Chinese guy beat us both but there’s always next time.

“I could tell the crowd enjoyed it and I know I did so I am happy.”

Beijing gold medal winner Sam and Oliver, 17, originally from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, took up swimming at an early age and are said by their mother to have grown ever more competitive.

Sam made his Paralympic 
debut aged 17 when he struck gold in Beijing, the same age as his brother’s debut at the London Games.

The life stories of Paralympians do not get much more inspiring than that of Derek Derenalagi.

The Fijian-born powerhouse was seconds away from making the ultimate sacrifice for Britain as he was given up for dead following a Taliban bomb blast five years ago.

Last night the former soldier once again did his nation proud as he competed in the F57/58 discus final where he finished 11th.

Paralympics reports: Section 2, Page 11.