Gordon's Road to Tokyo
As some of you may know, our own team member Gordon Allan is a National Record holder and National Champion in Para Cycling. Not many know his story, and how he got into cycling and working at Park Bikes. Here's a few words from Gordo himself.
Our team at Park Bikes are 100% behind Gordo's Campaign to make the Australian Squad for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. We wish him the best of luck.
I fell into the sport of cycling a different way to most people. I learnt to ride a bike at a young age but after not being able to get off training wheels due to my Cerebral Palsy and balance, I gave it away. It wasn’t until a few years later at the age of around 12 where a mate dared me to ride his mountain bike down a big grass hill. I stayed upright and instantly loved riding a bike!
Two years later in 2012 I saw that Paralympics Australia were holding a sports draft where you could go and try a range of sports to see if you were a future talent. I saw cycling was advertised and after enjoying riding my bike around with friends for the past two years I thought this would be a cool sport. I was also playing soccer at this time and just given up para-athletics, so I thought I had some free time to take up another sport. After doing a few power tests on a Wattbike at the draft day, I received a call from Peter Brooks, who was a Paralympic gold medallist on the track. He is a member of Paramatta CC and strongly encouraged me to start cycling. I joined Paramatta Cycling Club, and he set me up on an old loan road bike in the junior program.
I spent the next two years in the junior program learning the basic skills of how to ride a road and eventually track bike at Merrylands Oval every Monday night. In 2014, Peter called me up and said there was an opportunity to join the Western Sydney Academy of Sport’s cycling program, being the academy’s first para athlete. I'd learn later that this opportunity didn't just arise, it was the foresight and vision of Pete to just help make this happen.
My time in WSAS was an opportunity to develop as a cyclist as the program provided coaching in race skills, structured sessions and featured some of the states best junior cyclists. This is also where I first met Nash Kent as he was head cycling coach and eventually, I started working at his bike shop - Park Bikes at Sydney Olympic Park.
During my two years at the academy from 2014/15, I greatly developed as a bike rider both on and off the bike, allowing me to race my first Para National Road Champs at the age of 16. The academy also exposed me to great Cycling NSW coaches such as Tom Dawson, who is still one of my coaches now. In 2016, I left the academy of sport as I was too old to be in the academy. Nash offered to coach me personally and asked if I’d like to ride for Park Bikes, to which I excitedly agreed too. Nash also introduced me to Tom Skulander, an Australian Para-Cycling coach, who helped develop my track skills. 2016 was also the first year that I claimed my maiden national titles on the track and road. But unfortunately, I missed out on the 2016 Paralympics as I was not fast enough compared to other international cyclists.
After finishing school in 2016, Tom Dawson, who is the Para coach for NSW and junior head coach for Cycling NSW invited me to train with himself with the aim to make the national team. For the next twelve months, we decided to focus on the 1km Time Trial on the track while also balancing university. During that year I improved my time by 7 seconds and at the national championships, broke my first Australian record and qualified for the 2018 World Championships. Since then, Tom has remained my NSW track coach, along with the NSW Institute of Sport and Australian Cycling team.
Next week I fly out for my third and most important World Champs as this is the final chance to earn my spot at Tokyo 2020.