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Bex’s 2012 Paralympic cycling dream over, but watch out Rio 2016

Bex Rimmington

Bex Rimmington

DON’T tell Bex Rimmington that trouble comes in threes.

It’s fair to say the driven Melton sportswoman has not enjoyed the kindest 12 months where luck is concerned.

But having endured the kind of ill fortune which would persuade most of us to curse the heavens and wave the white flag of surrender, Bex is back in her latest sporting odyssey.

It is testament to an almighty willpower and never-say-die pluck that the 28-year-old was last week brushing oars with Olympic athletes at the Henley Regatta, just months after being persuaded to give rowing a try.

She said: “I had a talent test with UK Sport who took my height and weight and said I would be perfect build for rowing, largely because of my leg strength. I was kind of interested so went over to Nottingham to give it a whirl.

“I did my first regatta and got to two firsts and was selected for Henley. I’m being fast-tracked by British Rowing at the moment which is quite exciting.”

Not that Bex, our newly crowned Sports Personality of the Year, will be getting carried away by dreams of medals and podium steps just yet, having seen two cycling dreams wrecked in quick succession.

Rewind 12 months and her dream ticket to compete at the sporting carnival of London 2012 seemed assured.

As a member of the British Paracycling Academy in Manchester, her passage to next summer’s Paralympics was in the bag.

As pilot of a tandem for a partially sighted rider, or stoker, Bex was ranked number one in the world and had a World Cup series win under her belt. She was finally savouring a life in elite sport, a pinnacle she had worked tirelessly towards for most of her life as swimmer, triathlete and latterly cyclist.

But, unbelievably, just one below-par result was enough to destroy all of that. They arrived at the World Championships as the team to beat and tactical riding from her rivals ensured they could only finish sixth.

And crucially, failure to claim a podium spot meant UK Sport became entitled to withdraw half of her funding.

She added: “I was concerned about the result. I asked my coaches and they said it will be OK, but when they finally sat down and told me the funding was cut, I knew then I couldn’t continue.”

After concerted appeals for emergency funding failed, and faced with only £6,000 a year to live on, she was forced to decamp home to Melton.

But a silver lining soon appeared on the horizon and a route back into top level cycling. Team bosses at leading British outfit Rapha Condor were happy to gain from the academy’s loss and offered Bex a full-time place as a paid professional on their seven-strong ladies’ team.

But a freak accident on a gentle club ride with Melton Olympic would soon see this next dream dashed. While waiting at a set of traffic lights, Bex’s neighbouring rider lost balance, knocking her to the ground and breaking the scaphoid bone in her wrist.

She said: “I knew instantly when I got up that something was wrong. I had to laugh because otherwise I would have just cried, but it did knock my confidence for a while.”

But when one door closes for Bex, another exciting sporting avenue opens up, and in this case rowing. Things have moved quickly and since first dipping her toe in the water at Holme Pierrepont, she is already lining up the British Championships, World Masters and GB trials.

She said: “Rebecca Romero won an Olympic gold medal in cycling after being a successful rower, and I’m hoping to do the same, just the other way round.”

 

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