At this year’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Finlay Graham won his first medal at the Games in the C3 3000m Individual Pursuit coming away with Silver against his GB teammate Jaco van Gass and he then went on to once again win a Silver medal in the C1-3 Road Race. Earlier this year, Finlay won a Bronze medal at his first World Championships in June, and the previous month, he won Gold at the Belgium World Cup. One of Finlay’s stand-out highlights over the years as a professional cyclist was winning his first World Cup in Canada and, with his season now finished, Finlay’s next race will be at the Track Worlds next year. We talked to Finlay about his time at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, coming away with his two Silver medals and attending the World Championships and the Belgium World Cup earlier this year.
Can you tell us how you found the experience at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as part of ParalympicsGB?
Being able to represent ParalympicsGB at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics was such a phenomenal experience! It made the whole thing so much better the fact that all the teammates and staff made it such a nice environment to be in for the entirety of the trip! When you have such a strong team around you it drives you and gives you that little bit of extra motivation and it showed the fact that all our squad came away with medals!
How was it racing against your GB teammate Jaco van Gass in the Gold Medal Race in the C3 3000m Individual Pursuit and how was it standing on the podium collecting your first medal of the Games?
Coming into the Pursuit I set myself the goal of trying to win the Bronze as I hadn’t medalled at a Track worlds yet and I thought that the Gold/Silver ride off was going to be a bit of a push for Tokyo but I’m glad that I was one of the first off as that meant I was able to set the benchmark time that others had to respond to but I did not expect to go that quick! I knew though that Jaco was capable of going that quick and as I said previously I would much rather lose to a teammate than see the Gold go to a different country.
You went on to win another Silver medal, this time for the Men’s C1-3 Road Race, what was this race like?
WET!!!!! We did so much heat acclimatisation work in the lead-up to this race which helped us for the humidity on the day but it felt like we were back in the UK, these conditions did play into our hands though as quite quickly we realised that the other riders were not as comfortable riding in these conditions so we were able to use this to our advantage and managed, again, to get a 1-2, with Jaco just unfortunately missing out on the Bronze!
What did you enjoy most about staying in the Paralympic village and being part of the ParalympicsGB cycling team?
I think the best part of it was just how well we got on as a team and we thrived off each other’s success and the results of everyone really proved that!
How did you prepare for this year’s Paralympics and what is a typical training day in the lead-up to a major competition?
The focus was really just getting volume in to be as fit as possible but also throwing in some efforts that would replicate the road race and the different scenarios that they could include.
Can you say about attending the ParalympicsGB Homecoming Concert?
This was a really nice event as whilst we were out in Tokyo we were not able to meet other athletes or even celebrate with the whole cycling squad as the track-only bunch left Tokyo as we headed to the road venue so it was nice just to be able to celebrate with the full squad and the fact we were able to share the success with the public as well.
How did it feel winning Bronze at your first World Championships in June?
This gave me a lot of confidence ahead of Games selection as I knew that I was going well and it’s a perfect time to win your first Worlds medal.
In May, you won Gold at the Belgium World Cup, how was the experience?
The Flanders Classic was a really cool event and something I really hope we get more of in the future as it is different to the normal circuit races we do at World Cups but it was such an enjoyable event and being able come away with the win was an added bonus and then, again, for GB to get 1-2-3 just shows how strong our squad is.
What are some of your other career highlights over the years?
Winning my first World Cup in Canada is definitely up there, but it has to be the whole Paralympics experience!
Had you always wanted to take up cycling professionally and how did you start?
I have always loved cycling from a very young age. I grew up in the borders of Scotland riding mobs at Glentress and from there it has just become such a big part of my life.
What inspired you to start your YouTube channel and what plans do you have for future videos?
I started the YouTube channel mainly just for myself so in the future I can look back at all the stuff I got up to training and racing but it has been nice being able to share these experiences with everyone.
When is your next competitive race and what competitions are you hoping to attend in the next year for either GB or Team Scotland?
I now have a long time until my next race which is Track Worlds and it isn’t until March or April so I’ve got a long time to get back up to full fitness after the time off that I have had from the Games!!
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